BEACON FALLS — With six returning seniors and a solid core of nine juniors on the roster, the Woodland softball team appears to be one of the teams to beat this year in the NVL.
The Hawks lost only two seniors from last year’s team that went 11-9. How that experience and leadership will play out on the field remains to be seen, and head coach Loren Luddy is taking the cautiously optimistic approach.
“We have a lot of experience coming back,” Luddy said. “But in the game of softball you still need to have a dominant pitching game. No matter what teams lost through graduation you still need to get by Seymour, Oxford, Watertown, Naugatuck, Torrington, and don’t forget Holy Cross won a state championship. There are no easy games in this league and we had better be ready to compete.”
Woodland graduated starting pitcher Stephanie Kiley and Jamie Dizazzo, but return three senior captains: Carla Piccolo (All-NVL), Samantha Buzgo (All-Division) and Gabriella Bedryczuk.
Seniors Cameron Caswell (All-Division), Samantha White and Gina Farina bring a wealth of experience and leadership. The Hawks also have experienced depth with a class of nine juniors including Emily Brouillette (All-Division) and pitcher Maddie Hupprich, who spun a no-hitter last season.
Woodland can put runs on the board with Piccolo, who hit .533 with five home runs, scored 25 runs and had 17 RBIs last year, along with Caswell, a .468 hitter who had six home runs, 22 runs scored and 18 RBIs last season.
Brouillette and Buzgo both batted at a .385 clip while White had an average of .396. One of the surprises of last season was sophomore Ivy Geloso, who broke out with a stellar freshman campaign.
“All of our returning players are excellent players and we do expect to be a contender,” said Luddy, who has been hard at work putting her team through the paces along with assistant coach Alice Levinsky. “But in reality it’s going to come down to everyone working together to make that happen. Hitting, defense and our pitching game stepping it up.”
Junior Jen Triana and Geloso will add depth to the Hawks pitching game. Brouillette and junior Meredith Dyckman will see time behind the plate. Junior Jaclynn Guidi will serve as team manager.
Juniors Vanessa Adams, Lindsey Gabianelli, Sabina Kica, Rita Plante and Kaylee Yerrington will be competing for playing time along with freshmen Stephanie Krebbs and Lizzie Triana.
Woodland will get the season under way on Saturday at home at 12 p.m. against Torrington. The Hawks will travel to Naugatuck on Monday before closing out next week with Oxford on Wednesday and Kennedy on Friday.