By Kyle Brennan, Citizen’s News
After losing an entire season to a pandemic — and entering this one with some of the highest expectations in program history — the Woodland softball team is simply thrilled to be back on the field.
“I definitely see a ton of energy and excitement out of all of them,” Hawks coach Loren Luddy said. “They are really happy to be out there.”
Woodland jumped out to a 3-0 start, crushing Sacred Heart and Wilby while hanging on for an 8-5 victory over Wolcott on April 12.
In the victory over the Eagles, sophomore Sammy Sosnovich hit for the cycle with three runs scored and three RBI. Kylie Bulinski added two doubles, a homer and three RBI, while May Dawes scored twice.
The Hawks jumped out to a lead in that game thanks to the pitching of Riley Kane, who tossed five innings. Sosnovich pitched the final two innings to seal the victory.
“Riley and Sam are pitching very well, and Kylie is working great with both of them,” Luddy said. “It was fantastic at the end of the Wolcott game — Riley had pitched five innings and they were starting to get a hold of her, so we put in Sam and that’s all she wrote.”
Luddy also enjoyed the atmosphere of the game, which saw the Hawks hold off the Eagles’ rally
“It was really loud,” said Luddy, noting it’s unusual for a game in the first week to carry that tone. “We were yelling, their fans were screaming, the benches were up and jumping — it was like nothing had ever changed for the last few innings of that game. I saw the girls really buckle down and get the job done when Wolcott was coming back.”
The win over the Eagles, plus the 22-0 and 19-0 victories over Sacred Heart and Wilby, demonstrated the Hawks’ offensive potential. Bulinski has been the most potent bat, tallying three extra-base hits against Wolcott and a pair of homers against the Hearts, but the lineup is strong from top to bottom.
Dawes led off all three games with a hit and came around to score each time.
“The way that we came out against Wolcott in the first couple of innings, the girls were showing their power,” Luddy said. “The kids at the top of the lineup get on, and we have power in the middle. These girls really stayed with it through the offseason. It’s a very strong nine, and I have two freshmen (Lucia Rubano and Breanna Thurston) on my bench who can go in and make something happen.”
The schedule will only get more difficult the rest of the way. After games against Crosby and Derby on April 16 and April 19, the Hawks are set for a gauntlet over the next month which includes two games against Seymour and Oxford, plus single games against Naugatuck, Torrington, Holy Cross and Thomaston.
Luddy hopes to see improvement in the finer points of the game.
“We definitely have to work on closing down all the gaps in the field,” Luddy said. “We have to know when to be in and out in the outfield, infielders knowing where the outfield is, stuff like that. We’ll be working on, one through nine, recognizing each other’s strengths, knowing when we’re going to be running, swinging and playing some small ball.”
Slow start for Naugy: It was a slow start for the Greyhounds — but not through any fault of their own.
After a 20-0 rout of Wilby to open the season April 10, Naugy saw its scheduled clash with Holy Cross postponed as a result of a COVID-19 pause by the Crusaders.
The ‘Hounds are finally set to return to the field April 16 at Seymour before hosting Watertown on April 19 and visiting Woodland on April 21.
In the opening win over the Wildcats, Alyssa Roberts tossed three hitless innings with seven strikeouts before Kayshla Diaz added four more strikeouts over the final two frames.
Roberts also added a homer and two doubles with six RBI, and Felicia Salvati had four hits and two runs. Nadia Cestari and Sophia Onofrio both posted the same line with two hits, two runs and three RBI apiece, while Samantha Mullin added two hits and three runs.