Hawks ‘ready for the season’ 

The Woodland softball team will be led this season by seniors, from left, Rita Plante, Jen Triana, Lindsey Gabianelli, Maddie Hupprich, Emily Brouillette, and (missing from photo) Meredith Dyckman. –KEN MORSE

BEACON FALLS — The Woodland softball team will carry a much lighter bat bag this season after graduating six seniors, four of whom were All-NVL or All-Brass Division in the last two seasons.

All-NVL Cam Caswell took her team-leading 34 hits and .531 average to Rensselear Polytech Institute. The Hawks also lost 2015 All-NVL and 2016 All-Brass Division slugger Carla Piccolo.

A couple of more bats that graduated were 2015 All-Brass Samantha Buzgo and 2016 All-Brass .483 hitter Samantha White. Speedster Gina Farina and slugger Gabriella Bedryczuk also graduated.

“We lost six starters from last year,” Woodland head coach Loren Luddy said. “And they produced a lot of runs. We have some girls to step it up. We had so many changes in the lineup because of injuries and sickness that a lot of the younger girls got some valuable experience.”

Woodland returns a stable core, led by senior co-captains Maddie Hupprich and Emily Brouillette. Seniors Jen Triana (pitcher), Meredith Dyckman (outfield), Lindsey Gabianelli (second base) and Rita Plante (infield) will also serve as leaders for a younger group of players who will be looking to make an impact this season.

“We don’t have as many of the power hitters that we used to have,” Luddy said. “But we do have girls who can make contact and who are here every day working hard and have a desire to do well.”

The Hawks will be without Hupprich this season on the field though, as she is scheduled to miss the playing season with shoulder surgery. Last year, she was named to the All-Brass team, batting .386 with 16 runs scored and driving in 13 runs. She has committed to play softball at Eastern Connecticut State University next spring.

“Losing Maddie is a very big hit to the team. Not only is she a very good player but a good captain, and hopefully she will be back soon to be a leader and help out that way,” Luddy said.

The strength of the team may be at the center of the infield where junior Ivy Geloso will be in the pitcher’s circle for the third season. The junior will be throwing to two veteran catchers in Brouillette and Dyckman. Woodland will also use Triana in the circle.

“We have a full outfield to fill and depending on who is pitching we may have to switch up the entire infield at times,” Luddy said. “The good thing is a lot of these younger girls got valuable varsity time last year and they are ready to step into larger roles this year.”

The pair of pitchers provided an offensive spark last year as Triana hit .350 and Geloso scored 21 runs, and some of the younger players, like sophomore Steph Krebbs, stepped up. Krebbs hit .444 and knocked in seven runs last year.

Juniors Brianna Vallejo (third base) and Isabel Golia (outfield) will team up with sophomores Emily Caruso and Elizabeth Triana too add a little scoring threat to the lineup.

Junior Jordan Williams along with sophomores Katelyn Donovan and Julia Clement will also provide Luddy some options when she changes the lineup.

The Hawks got out to a 9-5 start last year, but finished 10-12 due to injuries forcing consistent lineup changes. Woodland will need to find consistency early on in order to continue its run of qualifying for the NVL and state tournaments.

“We may have lost a little bit of pop in our bats,” Luddy said. “But the smiles are back and that’s a good thing to see. These girls are ready for the season.”

Woodland is scheduled to open the season Saturday at Shelton. Next week, the Hawks are scheduled to head to Ansonia on April 4 before hosting Sacred Heart on April 7 and Barlow on April 8.