By Kevin Roberts, Republican-American
WEST HAVEN — Fifth-seeded North Branford was able to get clutch hits, and top-seeded Woodland couldn’t muster enough in the Class M softball semifinals June 7.
It resulted in a 7-2 loss for the Hawks at Biondi Field, the first of the season for Woodland.
For the Hawks, their terrific season ended a game short of the state final. Woodland finished with a 23-1 record. North Branford (18-2) moved on to play the Seymour in the Class M championship game.
“This was the one game where we were just off,” Hawks senior captain May Dawes said. “Coming from our season, we’ve been hitting every game. I think we were just off today.”
Dawes had three of Woodland’s nine hits for the game, including a seventh-inning double. North Branford wound up with 10 hits.
“We just didn’t get the hits with the runners on, if we had runners on,” Hawks coach Loren Luddy said. “We didn’t hit the gaps. We made some bad decisions on swinging, and they didn’t. They got big hits with runners on base, and we scattered our hits. We scattered our hits too much.”
North Branford’s big inning was the top of the third. The Thunderbirds needed a response after the Hawks trimmed an early 3-0 deficit to 3-2. Riley Kane had an RBI single in the first, and Cassidy Doiron hit a solo home run in the second.
North Branford began the third with a bang when Jada Miconi lined a double off the center field fence. Miconi got to third on a sacrifice bunt, then another sacrifice bunt turned into a fielder’s choice and Miconi scored. Isabella Hills’ two-run triple down the left field line made it 6-2 and brought an end to the day for the Woodland starting pitcher Kane.
Samantha Sosnovich came on in relief, and a grounder to second scored Hills for a 7-2 Thunderbird lead. Sosnovich did well to keep North Branford at seven runs, but the Woodland offense never got a runner past second base the rest of the way.
It was a great season for Woodland, one that included an NVL championship.
“I know a lot of our girls worked really hard in the offseason, and I think that just contributed a huge amount to where we are now,” Dawes said.
There’s plenty of talent back next season, but Luddy said she will have to find leaders to replace Dawes and fellow senior captain Emily Beyer. Dawes believes the Hawks will again be strong.
“I think they’re going to stay hot the next couple seasons,” she said.