BEACON FALLS — Woodland head softball coach Loren Luddy and assistant coach Pete Calandro began the season looking to blend a crop of young talent with a solid core of experienced players.
“The seniors did a great job bringing along my very talented group of younger players,” Luddy said. “The freshmen came in ready to work. Having Pete Calandro as my new assistant coach really helped because a lot of the girls knew him and played for him.”
The combination of young talent and experienced veterans proved fruitful as the Hawks earned the 16th seed in the Class M state tournament and hosted a first round game versus No. 17 Jonathan Law of Milford May 28.
Trailing 4-0 in the bottom of the seventh, Emily Caruso belted a double in her final high school at bat for Woodland, scoring a run to spark a two-run, seventh-inning rally that came up short as the Hawks fell, 4-2, to finish the season 14-8.
Sophomore May Dawes led the Hawks with three hits against Jonathan Law (16-6), which went on to knock off No. 1 Valley Regional in the second round.
The game marked the final one for four seniors: Steph Krebbs, who batted .458 with 18 RBI and earned All-Copper Division honors, Liz Triana, who hit .329 with 17 RBI and 16 runs scored, Katelyn Donovan, who batted .333 and scored 11 runs, and Caruso, who hit .333 with 18 runs scored.
The season of transition began right out of the gate when freshman pitcher Riley Kane (114 strikeouts) spun back-to-back no-hitters to start her varsity career. Behind the plate was fellow freshman Kylie Bulinski, who batted .596 with 29 RBI and earned All-NVL honors.
“Our freshman pitcher and catcher really came on and had a good season together,” Luddy said. “The freshmen and sophomores did a good job adjusting to the experienced pitchers they faced in the league.”
The Hawks ran off an eight-game winning streak to start the season and qualify for the postseason. There were some growing pains along the way, as Woodland was overwhelmed by some of the top teams in the league, but the future looks bright with so much young talent coming back for the Hawks.
Dawes batted .556 with 40 hits, 32 runs and 18 RBI and was named to the All-NVL and All-State teams.
Sophomores Emily Beyer (.297, 11 runs scored) and Taylor Muharem (.476, 10 runs scored) showed progress during the season.
Freshmen Cassidy Doiron (.484, 2 home runs, 29 RBI), Isabella Kraemer (.443, 20 runs scored), Chelsea Donovan (.391, 22 runs scored) and Rory Nolan (.324, 10 runs scored) paid immediate dividends for Woodland.