BEACON FALLS — A month ago, the Woodland softball team crushed Ansonia, 24-5, in a game that didn’t require any comebacks or any heroes.
Monday night, though, the Hawks found themselves in a 1-0 hole halfway through their senior night game at the Beacon Falls Recreation Complex. On a night meant to honor Woodland’s three seniors, a freshman came through as the hero to the comeback.
Rookie third baseman Cameron Caswell tripled and scored the tying run in the fourth before she hit a go-ahead solo homer in the sixth to lead Woodland to a 4-1 win over the Chargers.
Caswell has gone from winning a starting job to powering the Hawks’ lineup in the No. 3 hole. She was 2-for-3 Monday and was one of only two players with multiple hits.
“I’ve been playing since I was really young so I guess all those years have brought me this far,” Caswell said.
Ansonia took a 1-0 lead in the second when Tierney Lawlor led off with a double down the left-field line and scored on a two-out single to right by Grace Keener. Meanwhile, Woodland struggled through the first three innings with Rachel Starkey recording the only hit.
Hawks coach Loren Luddy knew Monday’s game would be a different story than the teams’ first meeting, but the slow offensive start took her by some surprise.
“The first time we played them, they didn’t have their starting pitcher and three of their top four batters, so it was a different game entirely,” Luddy said. “And on senior day they play a little jittery because of all the attention.”
Caswell helped the Hawks shake those jitters when she led off the fourth by roping a 1-0 fastball to deep center field. She coasted into third base and two batters later scored when Nicole Fowler grounded out to pitcher Sam Valencia.
As Woodland pitcher Samantha Lee continued to hold the Chargers at bay, the Hawks took control of the game in the sixth on their next cycle through the lineup. Caswell led off that inning with a blast to left-center field and touched them all for a 2-1 lead.
“I actually started thinking about (hitting),” Caswell said of her attitude in her last two at-bats. “Hitting the ball is 80 percent confidence. I started thinking that I was going to hit the ball and that did it.”
Luddy saw Caswell calm down before her plate appearance in the fourth and thought it made the difference.
“She can get a little over-aggressive,” Luddy said of Caswell. “She really just took a deep breath, settled down and got the job done. She’s a good hitter and it only took her a few games to adjust to varsity hitting. When she’s relaxed she can really hit.”
Lee, who followed Caswell with a single, scored when Fowler roped to deep left field for a 3-1 lead, and Fowler came in for the final run on a single by Starkey.
Lee allowed her only two hits in the second and finished the game by retiring 16 of the final 17 batters she faced. She finished with nine strikeouts.
Woodland co-captain and senior second baseman Brooke Leshin finished with three put-outs and an assist while senior designated player Rihannon Ovchar reached base on a walk. Fowler, the other co-captain and center fielder, drove in two runs.
“Nicole has really come on hitting this year,” Luddy said. “It’s great to see her not only be a strong outfielder, but to also be great in the lineup. Brooke makes the plays, and you want them to hit the ball to her when the game is close. Rihannon has been great to have on the team. She’s just a great teammate.”
The Hawks lost out on their potential co-NVL Brass Division title Tuesday with a 4-3 loss at Wolcott.
Woodland bounced back on Wednesday with a 9-0 victory over Derby. Lee pitched six innings, allowed one hit and struck out nine for the Hawks against the Red Raiders. Courtney Jurzynski had three hits with an RBI while Carla Piccolo added three hits and scored two runs.
On Thursday the Hawks beat Crosby 12-2 to improve to 17-3. Lee allowed no hits and rang up 10 strikeouts in five innings for Woodland in Waterbury. Brianna Pacileo had a single, a double, two RBI and two runs scored for the Hawks, while Rachel Starkey added a double, a triple and two RBI. Brooke Leshin, Samantha White and Gabby Bedryczuk each belted an RBI double.
The NVL tourney starts Monday.