NAUGATUCK — The stands were full and fans lined the right field line Saturday at Naugatuck High for a softball matchup between neighboring Valley rivals Woodland and Naugatuck.
The Hawks earned a 6-0 victory — their fifth in six games — over a Naugatuck team that has seen its offense come to a screeching halt.
“We are doing a much better job adjusting at the plate depending on the pitcher,” Woodland head coach Loren Luddy said. “We are focusing more on hitting line drives instead of popping out all the time and it made a big difference. Especially in this wind, we were hitting it down and hard.”
Carla Piccolo put the Hawks on top 1-0 taking the first pitch of the game over the center field fence for a solo home run.
Naugatuck’s Jess Conover and Woodland’s Ivy Geloso then settled into a pitchers’ duel as the blustery wind under bright sunny skies kept a lot of drives in the ball park.
The Greyhounds, who were shut out in two of the three games heading into Saturday, threatened in three of the first five innings, but couldn’t come through with a timely hit as the Woodland defense played errorless ball.
The Hawks came up with 11 infield outs led by Maddie Hupprich at second, who covered a lot of ground with five assists and one putout. What hurt the ‘Hounds the most was five innings that ended on fly balls to the outfield.
“There’s no excuse,” Naugatuck head coach Kevin Wesche said. “You get three strikes every at bat and we didn’t get the most out of our at bats. We watched too many good pitches go by and we kept popping it up to end innings.”
The Hawks loaded the bases in the second with two outs on singles from Steph Krebbs, Gina Farina and Piccolo before Conover induced Geloso into a fly out to Jackie Aronin in centerfield.
Naugy’s best chance to tie the game came in the bottom of the third. Aronin singled up the middle and moved into scoring position when Mckenzi Staples dropped a sacrifice bunt in front of the plate.
Aronin stole third base with two outs but Geloso got Jenna Massicotte to fly out to centerfield to end the threat.
Megan Schofield came on in relief of Conover in the fourth and struck out two Hawks before retiring the side in the fifth on three infield groundouts.
Woodland scored an insurance run in the sixth. Hupprich drilled a double down the left field line and Krebbs came through with a run-scoring single up the middle to give the Hawks a 2-0 cushion.
The Hawks finished off the Greyhounds with four runs in the top of the seventh. Sam White got it started with a one-out single. Two walks, a fielder’s choice and an error continued the inning before Farina unloaded with a two-run single to open a 6-0 lead.
Naugatuck got back on the winning side of the ledger with a 15-2 victory over Kennedy on Monday.
Aronin led the hit parade with four hits, three runs and three RBIs. Katie Jaronecyzk added four hits of her own to go along with two runs and an RBI. Alex Langhans (2 hits 3 RBI), Olivia Rotatori (2 hits, 1 RBI), Molly Kennedy (2 hits, 2 runs) and Tanya Diaz (2 hits, 1 run) helped pace the offense.
Woodland took on an undefeated Holy Cross (10-0) squad on Monday and had the bases loaded in the last inning with the tying run at third base but came up on the short end of a 6-5 final margin.
The Hawks trailed 6-2 and then scored three runs in their final at bat. Cam Caswell singled in Farina, Sam Buzgo drove in Geloso on a bases-loaded walk and Lindsey Gabianelli scored on a single from Hupprich before a strikeout ended the comeback.
Naugy (5-5) will play Sacred Heart on Wednesday, Ansonia on Thursday and Torrington on Friday.
Woodland (6-4) will play Watertown, Wolcott on Friday and head to Seymour for a showdown on May 2.