By Kyle Brennan, Citizen’s News
BEACON FALLS — Woodland’s celebration of its first Naugatuck Valley League softball championship since 2010 lasted a few days.
Then, it was back to business — and to the bigger prize that awaited in the Class M state tournament.
“We took that night and the next few days to celebrate a great win,” Woodland catcher Kylie Bulinski said. “We went into practice with the mentality that we aren’t finished and the idea that we have the talent on the team to go far into states. There’s always room for improvement, and that’s exactly what we did in our practices.”
The top-seeded and undefeated Hawks enjoyed a first-round bye in Class M, and they routed No. 16 Nonnewaug, 12-0, June 2 in the second round to cruise into the state quarterfinals — also for the first time since 2010.
Riley Kane spun a one-hitter against the Chiefs and supported herself with a 4-for-4 effort, including three doubles and four RBI. Bulinski finished a triple shy of the cycle with four RBI, May Dawes had two hits and two runs, Cassidy Doiron homered with three RBI, and Isabella Kraemer had two hits with an RBI and a run.
Woodland (22-0) is set to host a quarterfinal June 5 at 3:30 p.m. against No. 8 Wolcott, which the Hawks defeated, 8-5, in their second game of the season back on April 12.
A win will send Woodland to its first state semifinal since 2004, when the Hawks made their only state championship appearance (a 4-0 loss to Hale Ray in the Class S final). The semifinals are scheduled for June 7 or 8 at a neutral site against North Branford or Jonathan Law. The finals will be played June 11 or 12 at a neutral site.
“We think we can win this state tournament because we all have the same goals in mind,” Bulinski said. “We know we need to take each game one at a time, keeping our focus together and working together as one.”
Naugy reaches quarterfinals: The Greyhounds kept up their hot play by winning their first two games in the Class L state tournament to reach the quarterfinals for the second time in the last three tournaments.
No. 10-seeded Naugatuck (19-4) opened with a 12-0 rout over No. 23 Waterbury Career in the first round June 1. Alyssa Roberts struck out nine, and Aryn Bomberry homered to lead the offensive attack. Lauryn Ramalho added two doubles and two runs, while Nadia Castari (three hits) and Kendall Allen (two hits) drove in three runs apiece.
In the following day’s second round, Naugy took down No. 26 E.O. Smith, 7-3. Allen homered, doubled and scored two runs, while Felicia Salvati also homered and drove in two runs. Roberts added three hits while earning the victory in the circle. Cestari’s three-run double provided the most support for Roberts.
The ‘Hounds are set for a tough test in the quarterfinals, visiting No. 2-seeded St. Joseph (19-1) on June 4. An upset will send Naugy to the semifinals against Ledyard or Fitch at a neutral site June 7 or 8. The finals will be played June 11 or 12 at a neutral site.