Naugatuck, Woodland could meet again for NVL softball championship

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BY KEN MORSE
CITIZEN’S NEWS
It’s shaping up to be another NVL softball showdown between Naugatuck and Woodland to decide the championship. But not so fast, as there are a bunch of other teams that are more than ready to stake their claim to the prize.
We all got to see a little preview of coming attractions when the Greyhounds busted out to a 4-0 lead over Woodland April 22. The Hawks came into the contest as the clear-cut favorite sporting a perfect 8-0 mark and a scary 131-0 scoring margin.
Naugy didn’t get the memo and Aryn Bombery blasted a three-run homer to account for the first runs scored against the Hawks all season. Woodland battled back escaping with a 5-4 win.
That game conjured up memories of last years’ NVL championship when the Hawks came back to win, 4-2, on Kylie Bulinski’s walkoff home run. Will there be a repeat scenario for the crown this season? There are more than a few teams that will have their say in the matter.
“Our philosophy remains the same. Prepare for the next opponent and don’t look beyond that,” said Naugy coach Kevin Wesche. “Woodland is certainly the powerhouse in the NVL if not the state.
“Last time we played them our girls were pumped up. There are seven teams out there besides Woodland and we all have our work cut out for us.”
Entering the final week of the regular season, Oxford, Watertown and Wolcott have all shown they have the moxie to be one of the last teams playing come championship time.
Don’t forget the likes of Holy Cross, Torrington and Seymour. Those will be the eight teams vying for the championship and the only thing that hasn’t been settled is the seeding for the tournament.
“We had a very close game with Naugatuck and a tough game against Oxford,” said Woodland coach Loren Luddy, who was rewarded by her team with her 300th career win against Kennedy on May 11. “That helps us going forward. We definitely need to work extra hard in practice and challenge one another so when we face those high caliber teams in the tournament.”
Woodland is loaded with pitching and hitting, making them the favorite going in, but nothing is guaranteed at tournament time. Armed with seniors Riley Kane and Bulinski (all-state), who both achieved career hit No. 100 this season. With seniors Cassidy Doiron, Bella Kraemer and Rory Nolan also on their side, the Hawks have plenty of experience. And don’t forget junior Sam Sosnovich, who was all-state last season.
Naugy is armed with three All-State, All-NVL players in Felicia Salvati, Sam Mullin and Kendall Allen. Mullin and Allen both reached the coveted 100 career hit mark. Seniors Nadia Cestari, Cadence Hofmann and Sophia Audi would like nothing better than a little payback before they graduate.
“Watertown, Torrington and Wolcott have been playing at the top of their game,” said Luddy. “None of these teams can be counted out. And you can never count Seymour out come tournament time. They are a tournament team no matter what.”
The seedings will really mean little when they take the field in a winner-take-all scenario and it’s game on. The quarterfinal matchups will be played at the higher seed on May 21. The semifinals are at Wolcott on May 23 and the championship is at Seymour on May 25.