Hawks blend experience with young talent

Woodland softball captains, from left, Katelyn Donovan, Emily Caruso, Steph Krebbs and Liz Triana will lead the Hawks this season. –KYLE BRENNAN

BEACON FALLS — A mix of experienced seniors and talented freshmen could be the solution that lands the Woodland softball team back in the Naugatuck Valley League tournament after a two-year absence.

“We are fortunate to have more depth than we’ve had in a number of years,” longtime Hawks coach Loren Luddy said. “I have four strong senior leaders who all started last year. We have a nice influx of experienced freshmen combined with a handful of juniors and sophomores who saw varsity experience last year.”

Senior co-captains Steph Krebbs, Liz Triana, Katelyn Donovan and Emily Caruso all started for the Hawks last season and will share the lineup with a group that could be among the most diverse that Luddy has ever filled on the lineup card.

“The exciting thing about what will end up being our starting lineup is that all classes are probably going to be represented,” Luddy said. “We have a good mix of experience and energetic youth.”

Some of those youngsters that are part of the much-anticipated freshman class will take center stage when the Hawks are in the field. Pitcher Riley Kane and catcher Kylie Bulinski are both slated to start when the season begins next week.

“Our battery is young,” said Luddy, who added that this will be the first time in program history in which the starting pitcher and catcher are both freshmen.

Krebbs and Triana should anchor the lineup. Both bring defensive versatility, as Krebbs can play shortstop and center field while Triana is set to play infield after catching last year.

Woodland also moves to the NVL Copper Division, where the Hawks will face league powerhouses Seymour and Oxford twice. A top-eight finish in the league standings will send Woodland to the league tournament for the first time since 2016, which Luddy set as the team’s goal this year.

A highlight of the season will come in April, when the Hawks take a spring break trip to Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex outside Orlando, Fla. Woodland will face Naugatuck, Windsor Locks and Wolcott during that trip, for which the Hawks have been fundraising for months.

“The kids are excited,” Luddy said. “The gloomy weather helps make everyone extra excited to play softball outside where it’s warm. We’re looking forward to the team-building experience. We have varsity players of all ages, so it’ll be good for them to get to know each other well and have family dinners together.”

Woodland is scheduled to open the season Saturday vs. Ansonia and host Sacred Heart next Tuesday.