Hawks on the hunt for more hardware on softball diamond

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BY KYLE BRENNAN
CITIZEN’S NEWS
BEACON FALLS — There were no surprises for the top-seeded and undefeated Woodland softball team in its Class M tournament opener June 1.
The Hawks routed No. 16 Plainville, 15-1, in five innings in the second round after enjoying a first-round bye. Riley Kane allowed four hits and a walk with five strikeouts. Kylie Bulinski had three hits, including a homer, and three RBI, and Breanna Thurston drove in four runs on a triple and a single.
That sort of production in the opener proved how much revenge the Hawks have on their mind following last year’s disappointing exit in the semifinals. How are they approaching each game?
“Very seriously,” Woodland coach Loren Luddy said. “They know they can’t let down. They know they have to work. Yes, it was 15-1, but (Plainville) did have runners on base and we did have to play defense. Our defense has been coming through to make the plays. We have to keep following through.”
Rory Nolan doubled twice with two runs and two RBI, while Julia Rowley also had two hits, two RBI, and three runs. Sam Sosnovich tacked on two hits, a run and an RBI, and Ella VanAlstyne had an RBI triple with a run.
The mercy-rule win advanced the Hawks into the Class M quarterfinals June 3 against No. 8 Wolcott, a team that Woodland throttled, 20-0, on April 16.
The Hawks, who won the Naugatuck Valley League title for the second straight year, probably feel like they’re playing a second league tournament — five of the eight quarterfinalists were NVL schools, alongside Northwestern, Sheehan and Haddam-Killingworth.
“The NVL is showing that we have enough quality softball happening here because our teams beat teams from other leagues with better records,” Luddy said.
Seeing a fellow league foe in the quarterfinal (Wolcott), a potential semifinal June 6 or 7 (No. 12 Watertown), or a potential final June 10 or 11 (No. 6 Oxford or No. 18 Seymour) has pros and cons.
“Going into the state tournament, it’s almost exciting to see new teams,” Luddy said. “It’s comforting in that you know what you’re up against, but at the same time you wish you were getting that new experience.”
At the end of the day, Luddy and the Hawks know they need to beat whomever steps in front of them if they want to win the program’s first state title.
“No matter who it is, we have to be ready to play,” Luddy said.
Naugatuck falls in second round: The No. 11 Greyhounds suffered a 3-2 loss to No. 6 Hall in the Class LL second round June 1, ending their season with a 17-7 record.
Sophia Audi scattered seven hits with four strikeouts and added an RBI single for the ‘Hounds. Nadia Cestari also singled and scored both of Naugy’s runs. Aryn Bombery had an RBI single for Naugy.
Naugatuck reached the second round with a 7-1 win over No. 22 Manchester. Kendall Allen led the Greyhounds with three hits, including a homer, with four RBI. Cestari also had three hits, three runs, and two RBI, while Samantha Mullin tripled and singled. Leah Chatfield also tacked on two hits.