Naugatuck looks to back in a groove

Naugatuck’s Shannon Burns (5) catches a popup at first base as Watertown’s Kayla Burr (1) safely gets back to the bag May 10 at Naugatuck High School. Naugatuck’s Julia Pelliccia (8) is backing up Burns. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

NAUGATUCK — Just over two weeks ago the Naugatuck softball team was sitting pretty in the Naugatuck Valley League and Class L standings with a 12-3 record. Now, with the regular season wrapping up this week, the Greyhounds have already secured a spot in the state tournament, but a recent skid has left them clinging to the eighth spot in the NVL tournament.

After winning 10 of 11 games, Naugy suffered a four-game losing streak.

The most recent defeat came Monday against Seymour, 4-3. Going into the seventh inning and trailing 4-1, the ‘Hounds cut the lead to 4-3 with a runner on third and two outs but popped out to end the game. Julia Pelliccia, Alyssa Ulrich and Jordyn Hunt each recorded two hits for Naugy.

The loss to Seymour (17-1), which is tied for the top spot in the league with St. Paul, followed another close, low-scoring defeat for Naugy against Watertown, 2-0, last Thursday. Alyssa Roberts kept the ‘Hounds in the game on the rubber with nine strikeouts and had the team’s only hit.

The recent skid for Naugy coincides with a lack of offensive production. During their 10-1 stretch, the Greyhounds averaged almost ten runs per game. After that, they scored just one run in their next 27 innings, right up to the sixth inning of Monday’s game versus Seymour.

“In the beginning of the season we were hitting great and finding the gaps in the field,” Pelliccia said. “These past four games we haven’t been putting the ball in play as much and if we do it’s usually an easy out for the opponent. If we get out of this slump, we have the ability to go far in both the NVL and state tournaments.”

A victory over winless Crosby (0-19) on Thursday clinches the final spot in the NVLs for the Greyhounds.

A win over the Bulldogs could set up a rematch with Seymour in the first round of the NVL tournament, which is set to start Saturday. The other possible No. 1 seed is St. Paul (17-1). St. Paul and Seymour are set to play Thursday.

Either team would present a tough matchup for Naugy, especially with the Greyhounds’ recent struggles at the plate, but it’s safe to say they can rely on their pitching. Greyhound pitching, led by the freshman, Roberts, has given up just 2.5 runs per game this season. The Greyhounds have given up over four runs just three times all year, two of those efforts coming before their fifth game of the season.

Naugatuck’s Hailey Deitelbaum goes to throw to first after fielding a ground ball versus Watertown May 10 at Naugatuck High School. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

“I think our freshman pitcher, Alyssa Roberts, has really stepped up and shown she’s a player,” third baseman Hailey Deitelbaum said. “She gets the job done on the mound and at the plate she’s very productive as well. She got down a little against Seymour because earlier on she wasn’t hitting the spots she wanted to, but she didn’t let that affect her the whole game. She focused up and got the job done. I think that she is going to play a key role during the tournament, and I have all the confidence that she’s going to continue to play the way she is.”

Briana Tavares, Naugy’s senior center fielder, and Deitelbaum said Monday proved they will not fear Seymour if it comes to playing them in the NVL first round.

“Playing (Monday) against Seymour and losing by one run of course was disappointing but also a wakeup call,” Tavares said. “I do not think anyone on our team fears any other team. We’ve played the same teams twice and have won the first game and lost the second, it is all who comes out on the field wanting it and putting in their all. If it comes down to playing Seymour again in the tournament, we now see how they play and how they hit.”

“I think a lot of it is the name on the front of some peoples’ shirts,” Deitelbaum added. “We sometimes get nervous when playing teams who have been talked about a lot or are playing well this season. But in reality, they are just like us. I don’t think we should be scared of anyone, and I think our game against Seymour should prove that we shouldn’t be. If we get Seymour again, I think we are going to play a bit more relaxed.”