NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck softball team was cruising along with a 4-0 mark, averaging more than six runs per game, when it took on unbeaten Wolcott last Friday. The bats went silent, the fielding wasn’t as sharp, and Wolcott handed the Hounds their first loss of the season by an 11-1 margin, as Naugatuck only mustered four hits.
“I thought we would play Wolcott to a closer game,” Naugatuck head coach Kevin Wesche admitted. “We didn’t produce at the plate, and our fielding made a few errors. Wolcott is a very tough team.”
How Naugatuck responded to the disappointing game would go a long way toward showing where this team is headed. The Greyhounds have since come out swinging; they throttled Sacred Heart Monday by a 12-1 count and swept a doubleheader with Wilby Tuesday, by 17-0 and 26-0 margins.
It was over early against the Hearts, as Naugatuck plated three runs in the first inning and four more in the second to build a 7-0 advantage. Lianne Wallace led the attack, collecting three hits, including a triple, and two runs batted in.
Alexis Granahan, Skye Stella, Julia Longo and Daniella Stoehrer added two hits apiece, as the Hounds ripped out 13 hits. Alexa Marucci fired a three-hitter and struck out nine, allowing just one run for the third time this season. She’s earned five wins in the pitcher’s circle so far.
“I thought the girls handled themselves well after our first loss,” Wesche said. “They came out for practice on Saturday, and it was business as usual. They were determined to get back on track. We have some young players at key positions, but we also have a lot of experience to back it up.”
The hot bats continued against the Wildcats, and Alexa Marucci threw a perfect game, striking out nine, in the first half of the twin-tilt.
Her teammates backed her up, erupting for seven runs in the third and piling on another six runs in the fourth, during the five-inning, mercy-rule, 17-0 win. Melissa Labonte pounded out four hits and drove in five runs with Daniella Stoehrer slamming four hits and driving in three runs.
Lianne Wallace had two hits and two runs scored. The big hit came off the bat of Alexis Granahan, who cracked a home run as part of her two-hits, four-run, three-RBI performance.
In game two, Wesche made some changes to the lineup, inserting Liz Hufnagal in the outfield, Molly Fallon behind the plate and Carli Pelliccia in the pitcher’s circle.
Pelliccia fired a one-hitter and struck out 10, as the offense put it away early, scoring nine runs in the second and nine more in the third, for another five-inning, mercy-rule win.
Skye Stella blasted a home run, leading the attack with four hits, five runs and four runs batted in. Julia Longo smashed a double and a triple among her four hits and also knocked in four runs and scored three, herself.
Alexis Granahan had three hits, three runs and three RBIs with Andrea Granahan pounding out three hits, three RBIs and one run scored to pace the 24-hit attack.
“We prepare these girls to win every game they play,” Wesche said. “But we have some young positions, and we are going to take our lumps from time to time. I think we will see just how far we’ve come as a team, after we face two of the toughest teams in the league.”
Wesche was referencing Naugy’s upcoming games against Holy Cross (5-1) Friday and Woodland (7-0) Monday. B home games start at 3:45 p.m.