Woodland experiences growing pains

Woodland’s Emily Caruso catches a fly ball versus Holy Cross April 29 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — Woodland softball coach Loren Luddy knew that her young team’s fast start to the season wouldn’t last forever.

The Hawks settled back down to earth at the end of April as their schedule ramped up. After playing perennial state title contender Seymour close in a 3-1 loss April 24, Woodland suffered a pair of lopsided defeats against another pair of the league’s better teams.

Holy Cross routed Woodland, 12-3, on April 29 before Oxford did the same in a 19-4 beatdown April 30. Both games came as freshman pitcher Riley Kane battled through an injury against some of the Naugatuck Valley League’s best hitters.

The stretch of three losses in four games dropped the Hawks to 9-3.

“We knew that there were going to be growing pains,” Luddy said. “The teams we play all year long, there’s a big jump sometimes in competitiveness and challenge. We knew we were going to be challenged, and we were.”

The veteran coach wanted to see how her team — whose starting lineup consists of two seniors, two sophomores and six freshmen — would bounce back from what could have been a demoralizing string of losses.

“It’s challenging when you get frustrated, but you can’t give up,” Luddy said. “The most important thing is the attitude in practice the next day. In the first five minutes, are we being lazy with our heads down or are we working harder? They worked harder, so I’m optimistic.”

The Hawks picked up win number 10 with a 17-0 victory over Ansonia on Monday.

Woodland’s Riley Kane (14) rounds second on her to scoring a run on a triple by teammate Cassidy Doiron versus Holy Cross April 29 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Steph Krebbs had two runs scored and three RBI for the Hawks. Cassidy Doiron had two RBI and May Dawes added two hits, two runs scored and two RBI.

Kane allowed no hits and struck out six in four innings of work.

The challenges are far from over on the Hawks’ schedule. After games against Watertown on Tuesday and Derby Wednesday, the Hawks get rematches vs. Oxford on Friday at home and at Seymour on Monday. Sandwiched between those games is a meeting with St. Paul on Saturday, a gamer that was postponed from May 3.

Those games will be important for positioning in the league tournament, which begins May 18.

“You can’t expect, with a team that’s so young, to stay perfect all year,” Luddy said. “But their spirits and attitudes are up, they’re refocused, and they’re ready to get back at it.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the version published in the May 9 edition of the Citizen’s News to include information on a game played after press time.