Alfiere, Hawks blanked in ‘M’ quarterfinal

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JEWETT CITY – The Woodland softball team was shut out for the first time all season last Friday, coming at the worst possible time — the Class M quarterfinals. The Hawks managed only two hits while Katie Alfiere allowed three runs on four hits as No. 4 Griswold eliminated the fifth-seeded Hawks, 3-0.

Tayler Boncal and Kara Hames accounted for the only two hits for the Naugatuck Valley League champion. Boncal’s single came with one out in the first inning, but she was left stranded after Aubrey Roulanaitis struck out and Alfiere grounded out to end the inning.

Griswold wasted no time taking an early lead, capitalizing on a leadoff walk allowed by Alfiere in the bottom of the first. A sacrifice bunt moved the runner to scoring position, and she later scored on a groundout to second to make it 1-0 after one.

The Hawks were unsuccessful all afternoon in making any solid contact off Griswold pitcher Taylor Lane, who struck out eight and didn’t allow a ball into the outfield on the fly. The Black and Gold consistently swung and missed at Lane’s excellent changeup or pounded the ball into the ground by swinging at knee-high offerings.

“She had a lot of movement, a lot of offspeed pitches, and personally I don’t think we were ready to play her,” Alfiere said of Lane. “A lot of the girls in the NVL don’t pitch like her. She wasn’t overpowering, she wasn’t anything special, but she threw a lot of balls and we swung at them. The reason the balls we hit didn’t go anywhere was because they weren’t good balls to hit.”

Woodland’s best chance to score came in the top of the third when the Hawks had runners on first and third with two outs and Roulanaitis at the plate. But the senior shortstop struck out for the second time on the day and Woodland came away with nothing.

Meanwhile, Griswold continued to scratch out runs, adding another in the fourth. Again, Griswold took advantage of a leadoff hit batsman by sacrificing the runner to second before a double to left — the first hit Alfiere allowed — made the score 2-0.

“They were a good hitting team,” said Alfiere, who struck out one in a complete game effort. “When they got runners on, they did a good job of forcing them over and getting them in.”

Griswold pounded out one more insurance run in the sixth with three consecutive hits up the middle to make it 3-0.

Woodland went down in order in the seventh to seal its first loss of the season with Alfiere as the starting pitcher. Alfiere finished with a 20-1 record. Woodland finished the season 22-4 overall — the most wins and fewest losses in school history. The Hawks also captured their first-ever Naugatuck Valley League and Brass Division championships. Alfiere and Roulanaitis were both named all-NVL and all-state.

“We feel good with the season we had, but we were definitely looking to advance further,” head coach Loren Luddy said. “We had a tough day offensively and that hurt us. It felt great to win the NVL for the first time this season. With five strong seniors, it would have been nice to keep going, though.”

“It’s disappointing but I guess it’s better off saying that in our senior year we came out on top still,” Alfiere added. “We are the first and the only Woodland softball team to have banners. We had a great season and it would have been a lot better if we could win states because that’s something Woodland doesn’t have for softball. But we’re champions in the NVL, we beat everyone we had to, we just came up short in states.”