NAUGATUCK — Katie Alfiere tossed a four-hitter, striking out nine, and the Woodland defense committed just two miscues in the field, as the Hawks held off Naugatuck Saturday, by a 6-2 margin, to remain unbeaten.
Woodland (11-0) took advantage two fielding mistakes by the Greyhounds (9-3) in the first inning to jump in front. Three more errors helped to pad the lead, while the offense belted out seven hits.
Katie Lembo had a hit and three RBIs to pace the Hawks’ attack, with Aubrey Roulanaitis banging out two hits and adding an RBI and a run scored.
Skye Stella ripped an RBI double to plate Alexis Granahan and came around to score on an overthrow in the fourth inning, as Naugatuck fought back from an early, 5-0 deficit. But a couple more fielding mistakes handed Woodland a final tally in the sixth, solidifying the Hawks’ margin of victory.
“It certainly helped to get on the board early,” Woodland head coach Loren Luddy said. “Katie pitched an outstanding game against a very good-hitting team. And our hitting, one through nine in the order, this is the most complete team we’ve had.
“It’s tough to get though the meat of our order. They are a lot more confident, after last season, but we are only halfway through the season, and there’s a lot more games to play.”
Woodland got after it early, plating two runs in its first at-bat, courtesy of a pair of fielding miscues. Lindsay Boland reached base when a throw to first base was dropped. Tayler Boncal bounced into a fielder’s choice and stole second base with two outs. Alfiere sent a ball deep in the hole at shortstop, and an errant throw had runners at second and third.
Then Lembo pulled the trigger, smashing a two-run single under the glove of a diving Alexis Granahan for a 2-0 Hawks advantage. Becca Norton and Kara Hames drew walks to load the bases before Alexa Marucci got out of the jam, striking out the final batter to retire the side.
As shaky as the Naugatuck defense was, it pulled off a couple of stellar plays in the second inning to bail out Marucci. Lianne Wallace took a headfirst dive in right field to come up with a blast. And when Boland unloaded shot to the fence in center, the relay from Melissa Labonte to Julia Longo to Andrea Granahan at third nailed Boland trying for a triple.
In the bottom of that frame, a Wallace blast ricocheted off the hand of WRHS third baseman Amanda Gomez for the Hounds’ first hit. Alfiere slammed the door on the uprising, striking out the final two batters, and Woodland came to bat in the third looking for more.
Roulanaitis drilled a single to left, and Alfiere drew a walk to set the table. A wild pitch had runners at second and third, when Lembo lifted a sacrifice fly to right. Roulanaitis got caught in a rundown but eventually scored under the tag of NHS catcher Sydney Cotto.
Norton drove in the fourth run on a bunt that ended up an error to make it a 4-0 game.
Alfiere allowed a bunt single to Melissa Labonte in the bottom of the third but struck out the first and last batter of the frame to keep the Hounds scoreless through three.
The Hawks increased the advantage to 5-0 when Boland singled and came around to score on Roulanaitis’ double into the left-field corner.
Alexis Granahan opened the fourth with a walk, and Stella pounded a run-scoring double to the fence then scored on an error, on the relay to the plate, closing the gap to 5-2.
In the sixth inning, Woodland tallied a final run, on the fifth Greyhounds error of the game, for the 6-2 final margin.
“That’s why I picked them in the preseason as the favorite to win the NVL,” Naugatuck head coach Kevin Wesche said. “They played in the [league tournament] final last year, and they came back this season on a mission. We battled back to make a game of it, but it was too little too late.”