BEACON FALLS — The Woodland softball diamond, the bottom of the school’s three-tier athletic complex carved into a hill, looked like beef stew Tuesday.
“The only reason our baseball field is playable is because all the [rain] water drained onto the softball field,” Athletic Director Brian Fell said.
So the Hawks, those that grew up in Beacon Falls anyway, flashed back to their childhoods for a couple hours, hosting Wolcott on Pent Field at the town’s recreation complex.
“We grew up on [this field],” pitcher Katie Alfiere said. “I pitch here all the time. I practice here all the time. So it wasn’t that big of an adjustment.”
Truthfully, it didn’t matter where this game was played. The Eagles were not going to score on Alfiere.
The senior treated the yellow sphere like a highlighter and the strike zone like a textbook, finding all its key places, with nary a stray mark. She hurled a complete-game one-hitter and fanned 14 batters in a 3-0 victory that improved the Black and Gold to 9-0. Kayleigh Kirkendal tallied the Eagles’ only hit, a second-inning single, and was the only baserunner to reach second.
It was an important game against a much-improved Wolcott squad that Naugatuck coach Kevin Wesche dubbed “the surprise of the league,” after the Eagles (6-2) beat his Greyhounds—state tournament semifinalists two years running—11-1 April 16. The visitors’ lone loss entering Tuesday’s contest was a one-run defeat against defending Class M champion Seymour.
But the Hawks were ready. They knew scoring opportunities would be scarce against Wolcott hurler Alicia Markie and took advantage of the few presented. Freshman Tayler Boncal drew a one-out walk in the first inning then scored on a double by senior Aubrey Roulanaitis. The shortstop’s blast proved to be Woodland’s only base hit of the afternoon (even it might have been called an error by a less-generous scorer) and the only one it needed.
Alfiere delivered Roulanaitis, on a sacrifice fly, and the Hawks added an unearned run in the fifth to produce the 3-0 final.
Markie took the loss despite a stellar line: six innings, one hit, two earned runs and eight strikeouts.
Woodland head coach Loren Luddy, whose team has mostly steamrolled opponents so far this season, said she learned something about her Hawks, in such a close contest.
“That our defense can really be on their toes when they need to be,” she said. “Sometimes it’s easy to not be ready on every play, when Katie is pitching, because there are so few balls hit their way.”
There weren’t many balls hit their way Tuesday either, but even an ace like Alfiere knows there likely will come a day when she’ll need that defense to step up behind her.
“We could lose any time. We could lose to anybody,” she said. “So I just kind of go out there. I don’t want to worry because when I’m nervous I don’t do well. I like big games anyway, so things like this are good for me.”