Swinging for the fence

Naugatuck senior Alexandra Langhans rounds the bases after hitting a home run against Woodland May 2 at Naugatuck High School. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

NAUGATUCK — Naugatuck senior Alexandra Langhans has been drawing quite a bit of attention this season with her picture perfect swing resulting in majestic shots that sail over the fence.

Playing third base and catcher for the Greyhounds has added to the allure as Dean College from Franklin, Mass., has come calling, and the senior slugger will be playing for the Bulldogs at the Division III level next season.

“I really liked the environment when I went up there,” Langhans said. “Even though I didn’t know anyone they made you feel like family. When I told the coach I played third and catcher she indicated that I would be getting a lot of playing time, and that was also a factor in my decision.”

Taking on the responsibility of academics at the college level as well as playing a sport can offer new challenges. But Langhans’ friendship with former Naugatuck softball player Gillian Fortier, who now plays for Albertus Magnus, has helped her to learn the process and know what to expect.

“Gillian and I have been friends and played together for quite some time,” Langhans said. “That has helped me tremendously in my decision and what to expect. I think playing travel ball also helped me to realize that I could play at this level.”

There is no question that Langhans has become a very productive bat in the four slot in the Greyhounds’ batting order. Over a recent six-game span she hit two home runs in a game twice.

“I think the difference for her is her patience at the plate,” Naugatuck head coach Kevin Wesche said. “Last year, she was too anxious and going for pitches out of the strike zone. This year, she is being more selective and is looking for her pitch to drive. I think she has found a good place to be at Dean College and I feel she will do well there.”

Dean College, which plays in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association, went 11-13 this season under first year head coach Alyssa Krause. The team is young, graduating only one senior, with five sophomores and six freshmen filling out the lineup. That opens up an opportunity for Langhans to excel on a team that is coming together.

“I know Alexandra got a lot of confidence playing travel ball,” said her father Jason Langhans. “I coached her with the Valley Fushion and then she went on to the Falcons and now the Lady Knights, and at each step you could see the progress being made from all the hard work.”

“It’s also nice that she will be close enough that we can go see most of her home games,” her mother, Michelle Langhans, added.

Langhans wants to study sports management at college.

“I told her the most important thing is the academics,” Jason Langhans said. “It’s great to get the opportunity to play at the collegiate level, but school needs to come first and Gillian has told her that as well.”

“Gillian has already told me numerous times that it all comes down to managing your time and getting your school work done,” Langhans said.

It was evident early on that Langhans had big-play ability. Langhans blasted a triple in her first varsity at bat as a freshman, and she has continued to impress ever since.

Langhans hit two home runs as a junior and was selected to the All-Copper Division team with a .455 average and 30 hits. As a senior, she has six home runs and attributes the increase in power to being more selective.

“At times the team is looking to me for that big hit,” Langhans said. “But really there are enough good batters on this team where they don’t need to look to me. I think we can do well in the postseason.”

The Greyhounds stood at 6-10 through Tuesday with four games left on the schedule.

“I would like us to make the NVL tournament and get a few wins in the states,” Langhans continued. “Of course I’m always looking for my pitch and a few more over the fence wouldn’t hurt.

“I just want to be a good example to the younger players that if you put your mind to it and work hard you can achieve whatever you set your mind to.”

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the record for the Dean College softball team.