MILFORD — As Woodland softball coach Loren Luddy said, it’s not often that her Hawks play their best and don’t come out on top. Their Class M second-round game against Lauralton Hall was one of those rare cases.
No. 10 Woodland knocked nine hits and made all the plays but couldn’t take advantage of every opportunity and fell to No. 7 Lauralton Hall, 4-2, in last Wednesday’s state tournament game.
The Hawks (18-6) left nine runners on base, including two in scoring position in the top of the seventh. Nicole Fowler drilled a pitch with two outs, but lined out to short to end the game.
“It seemed like almost every time we needed a big hit, we’d hit it right at somebody,” Luddy said. “We hit the ball very well today; we just couldn’t find the spots.”
Woodland had at least one runner on base in every inning but the sixth. The Hawks had a chance in the seventh when three straight singles by Brianna Pacileo, Brooke Leshin and Cameron Caswell put the tying run on second with one out.
Crusaders freshman reliever Kaitlyn Mingione induced an infield popup by Rachel Starkey for the second out before Fowler’s game-ending lineout.
“We had some untimely popups today,” said Luddy, whose team popped out in the infield six times, four of which came with runners on base.
Lauralton Hall led wire to wire after a two-run first. Jaclyn Brewster and Lindsey Spitz stroked RBI extra-base hits for the two runs before Woodland starter Samantha Lee stranded a pair in scoring position with a strikeout.
“I didn’t know (Lee), but we faced Tatum Buckley (of Masuk) and she was pretty fast,” said Spitz, who added a sac fly in the third and scored on Rachel Landock’s single in the seventh. “This wasn’t quite as fast.”
Lee spun a six-hitter and struck out three. The seventh-inning run she allowed was unearned.
“Sam pitched great,” Luddy said. “She gave up a few hard hits in the first inning but after that she really settled down. Nicole made a few great catches in center field to help her out.”
In addition to Woodland’s seventh-inning rally, the Hawks had quality opportunities in the third and fourth innings. In the third, Natalie Veneri and Pacileo led off with consecutive singles and moved up on Leshin’s sac bunt.
Mingione relieved Lauralton Hall starter Haley Congdon after the bunt and allowed an infield single to Caswell, who drove in Veneri on the play. Woodland couldn’t further capitalize with a pop out and groundout ending the inning.
Congdon and Mingione, both underclassmen, combined to strike out three.
“That’s pretty much how we’ve done it this season; we have an opener and a closer,” Lauralton Hall coach Theresa Napolitano said. “This team has really been a smorgasbord of how we can blend things to make it work against a particular team.”
Woodland also stranded two runners on in the fourth. Pacileo lined out to center to end the inning. She, along with Caswell and Veneri, had multiple-hit performances for the Hawks.
Luddy said she was pleased with her team’s work ethic, which she thought was good enough to help them advance further in the postseason. The team will lose three seniors in Fowler, Leshin and Rihannon Ovchar.
“I wish that the amount of hard work and effort they put into practice was better reflected on the field at the end of the year,” Luddy said. “They worked very hard to improve their hitting against all pitchers and make all the plays in the infield. They shut down Lauralton’s slapping and made all the plays in the outfield, and it just wasn’t enough.”