BEACON FALLS — The Hawks are gaining experience on the job—and winning at the same time.
After four games, Woodland’s softball team has four wins. The first two victories were tense; the latest two were not.
But for a team that lost five starters, including its all-state pitcher, a win is a win. The first victory may have been the most important.
The early success has bred confidence for a group of players who are adjusting to the varsity level. Woodland beat Ansonia, 7-6, on April 6, and has gone on to win its next three games.
“It’s very important,” Woodland Coach Loren Luddy said. “To start strong and play well builds confidence. Of course, we haven’t faced any of the league’s most dominant pitchers yet.”
Nevertheless, the Hawks still have defeated all of their opponents so far. And it’s been a total team effort on both offense and in the field.
The Hawks have swung the bats well so far. Woodland has scored 36 runs in four games and 10 different hitters have collected at least one hit.
Luddy credits the offensive output to aggressiveness. Hawks hitters have stepped in the batter’s box with purpose.
“All of these players are swinging at strikes and ultimately putting runs on the board,” Luddy said.
Junior third baseman Angie Wirsing has led the team at the plate and posted eight RBI in four games. There have been many other contributors.
Senior Lindsay Boland, who missed the first game due to injury, has started strong. Boland, one of the team’s three senior captains, has scored five runs and has at least one hit in the last three games.
Kara Hames, also a senior captain, came up with a big day at the plate in the season-opening win at Ansonia. Hames displayed her leadership on opening day, going 3-for-4 and driving in a run.
“That Ansonia win was important, especially when it looked like it could have gone the other way,” Luddy said.
Freshman Samantha Lee, who has won all four games for the Hawks this season, found herself in a tough spot in each of her first two starts. In both games, she faced a two-out situation in the last inning with the tying run at third base.
She made the pitch she needed and induced a ground ball out to second baseman Brooke Leshin in the team’s first two victories—against Ansonia and Brookfield. In the last two games, Lee has allowed only one run in wins over Derby and Wilby.
Lee has pitched to fellow freshman Rachel Starkey while senior Rebecca Norton has missed time due to an injury. Starkey has done her job.
“She’s filled in wonderfully,” Luddy said of Starkey.
Defensively, the Hawks have received big plays in the field. Thus far, teams have had to earn runs against Woodland.
Nicole Fowler, who scored two runs in the win over Ansonia, also had several big catches in right field in the 6-5 victory over Brookfield last week.
“The defense has helped us hold on,” Luddy said.
The Hawks were scheduled to host St. Paul on Thursday before embarking on a two-game road swing at Torrington on Friday and Watertown on Monday.