NAUGATUCK — When Woodland and Naugatuck meet on the softball diamond, something has to give in this neighboring rivalry. Usually both teams come into the fray with something on the line and that was the case April 17 at Breen Field.
As expected, this one came down to the wire. Woodland was able to slam the door in the bottom of the eighth after the Greyhounds loaded the bases as the Hawks escaped with a 6-5 win.
Woodland came in as one of the hottest teams in the Naugatuck Valley League, outscoring the opposition by a 48-5 margin. The Greyhounds also brought an undefeated record to the table after defeating three opponents by a 31-9 count.
The Hawks’ Samantha Lee, sporting a 0.75 ERA, threw to catcher Rachel Starkey, while Naugy’s Jenna Miller, who had struck out 15 in 19 innings, tossed to catcher Shannon Searles.
Woodland — on the strength of a lineup boasting three .400 hitters in Carla Piccolo, Brianna Pacileo and Sam White — broke out to an early lead. Emily Brouillette, Stephanie Kiley and Lee each contributed two hits and an RBI while Alyssa Amarosa added a pair of hits to give the Hawks a commanding 5-1 advantage.
The Greyhounds, led by Gillian Fortier’s six runs and six RBI entering the game, couldn’t break through until Erika Andreoli belted a double and scored the first Naugatuck run.
“No lead is safe when you are facing a team like Naugatuck with a veteran pitcher,” Woodland head coach Loren Luddy said. “They were making solid contact all day. We made a few defensive miscues and allowed them back in the game.”
The game came down to the Greyhounds’ final at-bat, trailing 5-1. Naugatuck erupted and tied the game to send it to extra innings. Up to that point the Woodland defense, led by shortstop Cameron Caswell, was making all the plays.
Sandra Dinis led off the bottom of the seventh with a base hit. Lauren Burns singled and Kait Barry reached on a fielder’s choice. Jackie Aronin hit a two-out single to load the bases. Kara Klimaszewski then ripped a bases-clearing triple and came around to score on an overthrow on the relay to tie the game.
The Hawks had a threat going in the top of the eighth. Naugatuck almost got out of the jam with two outs, but a sharp grounder to shortstop by Natalie Veneri chased home Kiley with the eventual winning run.
“It got to extra innings and we were confident with Steph on the bases,” Luddy said. “She is a real gamer. Natalie has been very consistent at the plate and hits hard line drives, and we were able to get the run home.”
Lee worked out of her own jam in the bottom half and helped Woodland improve to 5-0 at the time.
“Woodland is a very good team with a lot of experienced players,” Naugatuck head coach Kevin Wesche said. “Both teams made their share of mistakes but in the end we were knocking on the door with the bases loaded. We got it done the inning before. We have to continue to believe in ourselves that we can get it done.”
The Hawks and ‘Hounds stumbled to start the week. On Monday Woodland dropped a 5-4 decision to Holy Cross and Naugatuck suffered a 6-5 loss to Watertown.
Woodland (6-1) had a 4-2 lead in the sixth inning but eventually coughed it up. Holy Cross’ Christina Razza was hit by a pitch with two outs and the bases loaded, forcing home Rebecca Anderson with the game-winning run.
The Hawks rebounded with a 1-0 victory in nine innings over Watertown on Wednesday. Woodland will play at Seymour Friday and return home Monday against Wilby.
Naugatuck (5-2) had a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the seventh at Watertown before Maria Velardi smacked a bases-loaded double to lead the Indians to a comeback win.
The Greyhounds got back in the win column with an 11-0 victory against Wilby on Wednesday. The Greyhounds followed that up with a 20-5 win over Sacred heart Thursday.
Naugy will visit Wolcott on Saturday and will host St. Paul on Monday.