BEACON FALLS — The Woodland softball team has a new sense of confidence entering the stretch run of the season.
The Hawks have won eight of their last nine games and stand at 14-3 overall with one week remaining in the Naugatuck Valley League regular season. They claimed a 3-0 victory Monday over Ansonia in which Samantha Lee spun a one-hitter.
“Sam’s been looking strong,” Woodland head coach Loren Luddy said.
Lee struck out 11 to shut down the Chargers at home. Cameron Caswell knocked a homer and scored twice, while Brianna Pacileo added two hits and an RBI and Alyssa Amarosa singled and scored.
The win over Ansonia was Woodland’s 13th of the season, which also gave the Hawks their 200th win in program history. Luddy has been the head coach for all 12 varsity seasons, over which her teams have averaged about 17 wins per year.
Monday’s milestone victory followed a 5-1 win at Wolcott on a damp Friday afternoon. Lee allowed just three hits and struck out five, and she also contributed two hits and two RBI. Caswell and Rachel Starkey each had two hits, and Sam White notched two RBI.
Still, Woodland has been far from perfect. Luddy sees a problem with missed opportunities, particularly in converting runners to runs.
“We had a lot of runners in scoring position that we couldn’t get in (against Ansonia),” Luddy said. “It was the same thing against Wolcott and Watertown the first time around. It’s been a problem.”
The defense has picked up the offensive slack, though. Luddy credited the outfield for strong play in limiting opponents’ chances and said the infield has put in the effort to cut down on errors.
“We’ve done a real nice job in the outfield, running down hits, hitting cutoffs and throwing people out,” Luddy said. “They’ve been working hard the last few practices to get rid of all the infield bobbles. We had some issues with that against Holy Cross and Seymour, but they’ve worked hard to get that out of their system.”
On Wednesday, Woodland edged Watertown, 5-4. Starkey had two hits and an RBI for the Hawks. White added a two-run single for Woodland, and Lee allowed seven hits and struck out seven.
Woodland stands third in the NVL, behind undefeated Torrington and one-loss Seymour. Both squads knocked off the Hawks earlier this season, including the Red Raiders’ 4-0 win over Woodland last week in which North Carolina-bound pitcher Sydney Matzko allowed just two hits to Lee and Natalie Veneri.
The Hawks scheduled home rematch against red-hot Seymour on Friday was postponed. Woodland will finish the regular season Monday at Derby and Tuesday at home against St. Paul, in a senior night game played at the Beacon Falls Recreation Complex.
A strong finish to the regular season could help lock Woodland into a top-four seed in the NVL tournament and a high ranking in the Class M state tournament.
“If we’re going to win these remaining games, we’re going to need to score our runners in scoring position,” Luddy said. “If we can keep up the hard work and make the routine plays, we’re going to be in good shape.”