NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck softball team is gearing up for an appearance in the Naugatuck Valley League tournament this weekend but still have a couple of more games to clear out of the way.
A matchup with Torrington, which is scheduled for Wednesday, will decide the Copper Division title and a final regular season game against Crosby on Friday will be a tune-up for the league tournament.
The Greyhounds are rolling along and peaking at the right time, winners of five straight to improve to 13-5 on the season.
Pitching and defense win championships in softball and Naugatuck has put itself in prime position to compete for one.
Last Wednesday, senior pitcher Alexa Marucci took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against Sacred Heart. A two-out single broke up the potential gem but Naugatuck won handily by a 12-0 count.
Marucci shrugged off the near-miss and has spun back-to-back no-hitters over Kennedy and Wilby in preparation for the Copper showdown with Torrington.
“Alexa has really been impressive this season, especially as we head down the stretch towards the tournament,” Naugatuck coach Kevin Wesche said. “She has a good demeanor out there, throws strikes and stays ahead in the count. It certainly helps that our defense is making the plays.”
Last Friday, Marucci hurled a no-hitter at Kennedy in a 6-0 win. Shannon Searles had two hits and drove in a run to pace the offense for the ‘Hounds.
Kara Klimaszewski had two hits, a run and an RBI with Gillian Fortier and Sarah Chandler each adding a double and a run scored.
“We have a very versatile lineup,” Wesche said. “We have two seniors, two sophomores, two freshman and three juniors in the starting lineup.”
On Monday Marucci continued her string of dominance throwing her second consecutive no-hitter in an 8-0 win over Wilby. The Greyhound’s hurler has now gone 21 innings in the last three games, surrendering just one hit.
Chandler led the Greyhounds at the plate, going 4-for-4 with three runs and one RBI. The junior shortstop now leads the team with 25 hits on the season. Sydney Cotto added two hits and two runs batted in with Carli Pelliccia scoring two runs and banging out a hit.
Fortier connected on her seventh home run of the season, giving the hot-hitting sophomore 17 in her career. Nina Kosciuszek added a hit and Erica Bohuski ripped a double. Lizzie Glick had a hit, Amy Dietz drove in a run with Kait Barry and Gretchen Hale scoring runs in the win over Wilby.
“The key for us at this point in the season is to make the most out of our opportunities,” Wesche said. “Our pitching and defense has been getting the job done. But we can’t strand baserunners as we have in the past.”
The ‘Hounds will likely be a top-four seed for the tournament, which is scheduled to begin on Saturday at Woodland.
“We have proved that we can play with teams like Torrington and Seymour,” Wesche said. “A couple of times we were just one hit away. We are confident going into the tournament this weekend. But we need to stay focused and finish up the regular season strong.”