Hawks win first-ever NVL softball title

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NAUGATUCK – Starting her third game in four days, Katie Alfiere allowed just two runs—one earned—and provided all the offense she needed with a two-run single and a two-run home run last Thursday at Naugatuck to lead Woodland to its first-ever Naugatuck Valley League softball championship in a 4-2 win over defending champion Seymour.

Alfiere broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the fifth by stroking a first-pitch fastball just over the 200-foot marker in center field to score both herself and shortstop Aubrey Roulanaitis, who led off the inning with a walk, and put the Hawks up, 4-2.

Katie Alfiere is swarmed by her teammates, including Kaiti Lembo, after the Hawks won their first-ever NVL championship with a 4-2 win over Seymour Thursday afternoon in Naugatuck.

“It was just a good pitch to hit,” Alfiere said simplistically of the home run. “I swung and it ended up going really far. She missed her spot and I capitalized on it.”

The two-run advantage was more than enough for the NVL’s top player as Alfiere recorded the final six outs to win the school’s first softball league title and improve her record to a perfect 18-0.

The Hawks found themselves in an unusual spot with Alfiere in the circle—in a 2-0 hole after the top of the third. A sacrifice fly to center and a ground ball error to second base allowed a pair of Wildcats to strike first.

Woodland wasted no time in catching up, matching those two runs in the bottom half of the inning. Left fielder Kara Hames lined a first-pitch fastball up the middle to lead off the inning and was joined on the bases with two outs by Roulanaitis after a walk. Alfiere plated both runners with a single up the middle to even the score at two.

“It was really important,” Alfiere said of tying the score immediately after falling behind. “Making it 2-2 made it just like a 0-0 game again. It took a lot of pressure off me because we weren’t worried that we might lose the game anymore.”

After the game, Alfiere was named the NVL tournament’s most outstanding player before the Hawks drenched head coach Loren Luddy with the rest of a cooler full of blue Gatorade. Though soaked, Luddy had plenty of praise for the performances of both Alfiere and the rest of the Hawks.

“She pitched an incredible game,” Luddy said. “She had all four RBIs. She’s just an unbelievable player. The defense behind her didn’t let her down. It was great. They did a good job.”

Not only did Alfiere shut down the Wildcats and drive in all four of Woodland’s runs, she did it just 15 days after undergoing an emergency appendectomy. Originally projected to be out for the season, the future Quinnipiac Bobcat returned to the circle May 24, a full two weeks sooner than expected.

“I don’t like watching and sitting around,” Alfiere said. “After seven or eight days I was able to walk and do thing that didn’t hurt. When I went to the doctor’s when he told me I could throw overhand it was worthless. I begged and pleaded to be back. I don’t mind watching my team win without me, but I don’t like watching and doing nothing because I like to do things.”

Alfiere pitched masterfully—although not well according to her standards—and allowed just five runs to three of the league’s best teams in just four days. Still, her joy after clinching Woodland’s first NVL softball championship was relatively muted, letting on the feeling that there is still plenty she wants to accomplish this spring.

“I’m happy,” Alfiere said. “We’re all happy. We won as a team. My team made plays behind my back, and we won.