Hawks show grit in tourney

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BEACON FALLS — The Woodland softball team went into the season with only one senior to lead the way. But the Hawks showed their resolve often throughout the season.

The Hawks split a pair of regular season games with neighboring rival Naugatuck. Woodland was pounded by Watertown in a 13-1 loss, but won the rematch with a spot in the NVL tournament at stake.

The season was also highlighted by no-hitters from senior Stephanie Kiley and sophomore pitcher Maddy Hupprich.

The Hawks, who finished the regular season 11-9, showed their tenacity by battling NVL champion Oxford in the quarterfinals of the NVL tournament.

“I’m pleased at how we managed to turn things around in the second half of the season,” Woodland head coach Loren Luddy said. “In the early part of the year we got a little discouraged and felt overmatched at times.”

The Hawks’ confidence grew as the season progressed.

“Later in the season we gained a little more confidence. We came back to beat a very good Watertown team and won in our last at bat against Hamden. That gave us confidence going into the NVL tournament and played a competitive game against Oxford.”

Woodland once again showed its resolve in the Class M state tournament. The No. 25 Hawks rallied with a two outs in the seventh inning to beat No. 8 Berlin 5-3 in the opening round of the Class M state tournament June 3.

Hupprich drew a walk in the Hawk’s final turn at the plate to get things going. Jen Triana came through with a run-scoring double and Kiley, who came in as a pinch runner, scored on a single from Carla Piccolo.

Sam Buzgo and Gina Farina had RBI doubles with Caswell adding a single and a run scored to send Woodland on to the second round to face Morgan in Clinton.

No. 9 Morgan topped Woodland, 7-2, June 4. Morgan used a productive first couple of innings to build a 5-0 advantage. In the third inning, Gina Farina singled and scored on a triple from Piccolo. An error brought home the second run and Sam White came through with the only other hit by the Hawks.

Piccolo was named All-NVL and Emily Brouillette, Caswell and Buzgo were named to the All-Division team. All three will be back next season as the Hawks will have a lot more experience and confidence to put together another competitive effort.

“We only lose one player, unfortunately it’s our starting pitcher who went 11-9,” Luddy said. “Stephanie was an excellent leader and when Maddy, our other pitcher, went out with an injury it all fell on her and she responded to lead us into the postseason.”

Woodland will bring back a lot of production next year led by junior shortstop Caswell, who had six home runs, 22 runs, 18 RBI and a .468 average to go along with 42 assists and 44 putouts in the field.

Piccolo belted five home runs and batted a productive .533 with 25 runs and 17 RBI. She also led the league with 27 putouts from centerfield. Buzgo had a perfect fielding percentage at first base to go along with a .385 average.

Brouillette batted .385 and made 22 putouts in right field. White finished the season on a tear batting .396 with Farina leading the team with RBI doubles.

Gabby Bedryczuk had an RBI hit in the state tournament win over Berlin. Freshman Ivy Geloso made 13 putouts and two assists during the season in left field.

Sophomores Lindsey Gabianelli, Meridith Dyckman, McKenna Cronin and Vanessa Adams all played productive roles during the season and in the tournament. The Hawks also had junior Ruthie Costanzo, sophomores Nicole Desiderio and Rita Plante and freshman Jordan Williams on the state tournament roster.

“We have a very experienced team coming back next season,” Luddy said. “Hopefully we can hit the ground running and avoid some of the ups and downs we had earlier in the year.”