Overtime with Kyle Brennan

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Overtime’s back … in the season where OT doesn’t happen

Round of Applause

Zack Mercer provided some of the first drama of the spring season on Monday when he hit a three-run, walk-off home run to help Naugatuck overcome a four-run deficit and beat Watertown, 11-8. Mercer helped pull the game to within 8-7 in the sixth when his hard ground ball went through the legs of Watertown shortstop James Phillips to score two runs before he launched his homer to right-center field with runners on the corners and two outs. The homer helped the Greyhounds improve to 2-1.

Kyle Brennan

The Woodland softball team is off to a somewhat surprising 4-0 start. The Hawks are usually among the best teams in the league year in and year out, but this undefeated start is still somewhat unexpected. Woodland lost five senior starters to graduation, including all-state pitcher Katie Alfiere and all-state shortstop Aubrey Roulanaitis, but the inexperienced Hawks have been able to find ways to win in the early going. Freshman pitcher Samantha Lee is 4-0 while seniors Lindsay Boland and Kara Hames, junior Angie Wirsing, sophomores Nicole Fowler, Kristen Dempsey, and Brooke Leshin, and freshman Rachel Starkey are contributing at the plate and in the field. The Hawks might only get better when senior captain catcher Rebecca Norton returns from an injury. Woodland still has yet to face the best the Naugatuck Valley League has to offer, but the confidence is growing in the Woods.

The Woodland Regional High School Hall of Fame is accepting nominations until Friday, April 15. For many people reading, that’s probably today. If you didn’t get a chance to return your nomination packet—which has been available in the main offices of every school across the region—to Woodland, you still have time to log on to the WRHS Hall of Fame’s website at halloffame.wrhsonline.net and complete the online nomination form. Make sure you check all eligibility requirements as outlined on website. Nomination forms are due at midnight. All nominations will be sent to the WRHS Hall of Fame Committee to be reviewed and voted upon. The Committee will announce the inaugural class of the Hall of Fame in early May, with the induction ceremony scheduled for June 9.

Canadiens vs. Bruins could be an outstanding first-round series in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. These teams have always been heated rivals, but that rivalry has even taken a step up this season with the physical—and possibly even dirty—play between the two. A lot of folks around here aren’t big hockey fans, including myself, but I think I’ll be tuning in to that series to see what happens.

Buffalo ranch sunflower seeds are the newest flavor of David sunflower seeds and they’re absolutely fantastic. I’ve been dreaming about this flavor of seeds for years and I’m elated that the company decided to finally make them. There’s not much else to say except you’re missing out if you haven’t tried them yet.

Chorus of Boos

Manny Ramirez just ended his career in perhaps the most shameful way possible. He decided to retire last week instead of facing a 100-game suspension that would have been imposed after he tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug for the second time, according to reports. It’s too bad, because Manny’s hitting talent was among the best of all time. Now, we won’t remember Manny as the idiot from the 2004 World Series-winning Red Sox team, but as the guy who probably did it all with the help of steroids. Oh well.

The Red Sox are off to an absolutely horrid start. As of press time Wednesday morning, the Sox were 2-9 following two-straight losses to the almost equally bad Rays. Boston’s only two wins were against the Yankees last weekend—how?—and aside from those two games, the Red Sox have been putrid. The pitching staff that was supposed to be among the best in the league has been underwhelming and the offense that was supposed to be bolstered has been anemic. Luckily, baseball season is a long haul and not a sprint, but the Sox need to get something going before the end of April.

Lips to CN’s Ear

“It feels way better [than a single]. I just tried to drive it but I got a good pitch.”

Zack Mercer

Naugatuck senior baseball star after hitting a three-run, walk-off home run to right-center field on Monday to beat Watertown, 11-8. Mercer helped his team rally from a four-run deficit that it faced as late as the bottom of the sixth. His ground ball through the legs of Watertown shortstop James Phillips pulled the game to within 8-7 heading to the seventh before he smashed the walk-off homer to help the Greyhounds improve to 2-1 on the season.

Word from the Woods

Baseball

Under first-year coach Mike Kingsley, the Hawks are off to a 2-2 start after facing a stretch of four games in the first six days of the season. Woodland beat Ansonia, 5-4, on April 6, thanks to a strong start by Anthony Pacileo and a pair of two-hit performances by Jack DeBiase and Anthony Scirpo. The Hawks’ other win came last Saturday in a 4-1 victory over St. Paul as Mike Masulli pitched a complete-game gem and DeBiase blasted a two-run homer. In Woodland’s two losses to Derby on April 7 and Wilby on Monday, the team has scored just one combined run, a single by Tanner Kingsley to score Nick Brown at Derby. Woodland travels to Masuk on Thursday for a nonconference matchup before hosting Torrington on Friday, Watertown on Monday, and Wolcott on Tuesday.

Boys Tennis

The Hawks are off to a 3-0 start with dominant wins over Naugatuck, Kennedy, and Wilby in the first week of the season. Woodland beat the Greyhounds, 6-3, on April 7 before routing the Eagles, 8-1, last Saturday and shutting out the Wildcats, 9-0, on Monday. No. 1 singles player Mike Krakowski, No. 3 Pat Dietz, No. 4 Steve Pec, and No. 5 Kyle Beynor were all undefeated in the first three matches while No. 2 Matt Murphy won two of his three matches. Woodland has three more matches this week, against Holy Cross on Thursday, Torrington on Friday, and Watertown on Monday.

Girls Tennis

Like its male counterpart, the Woodland girls tennis squad is also off to a 3-0 start and has lost just two of 21 individual matches so far this season. The Hawks shut out Ansonia on April 6 and Wilby on Monday while also beating rival Holy Cross, 5-2, last Saturday. No. 1 singles player Meg Wester and No. 3 Nicole Nelson were both undefeated on the week while No. 2 Lauren Tremaglio won two of three matches. The doubles teams of Angela Vallillo-Avery Gartman, Brooke Dragon-Eileen Hurley, and Amanda Olivera-Rachel Mariano were also unbeaten. This week, Woodland was set to face St. Paul on Thursday before meeting Torrington on Friday, Watertown on Monday, and Wolcott on Tuesday.

Track and Field

Both the boys and girls track teams swept in their first meets of the season last week with victories over Seymour, Derby, and Sacred Heart. Both teams’ closest competition was against Seymour, but the boys beat the ‘Cats, 89-61, while the girls won, 86-63. Event winners for the boys included Ian Bures (110, 300 hurdles), Kyle Cranney (1,600 meters), Scott Lang (javelin), and the 4-by-800 and 4-by-400 relay teams. Event winners for the girls included Marissa Mills (100 hurdles), Jiye Park (100), Crystal Steinfeld (1,600), Tayler Boncal (400), Arica Watford (200), Olivia Poryanda (javelin), Ashley Riley (long and triple jumps), and all three relay teams. Both squads will host Wilby on Friday.

Golf

The Woodland golf season was set to begin Thursday against Sacred Heart at Oxford Greens. The Hawks also host Wilby on Tuesday and Naugatuck next Thursday at Oxford Greens.

Naugy Notes

Girls Tennis

The Naugatuck girls tennis team is off to a tough, 0-3 start. The Greyhounds lost close, 4-3 matches to Torrington on April 6 and Kennedy last Saturday before falling, 6-1, to Watertown on Monday. Top singles players Miranda Jang and Kaitlin Carter each have one win while No. 4 Andrea Jimenez also picked up a win. No. 1 doubles team Alexa Ramos-Jessica Buckley won twice in their first three matches. The ‘Hounds were scheduled to face Crosby on Wednesday before playing Wolcott on Friday, Sacred Heart on Monday, and Wilby next Wednesday.

Track and Field

The Naugy boys and girls track squads got off to opposite starts in their first meets last Thursday. The boys swept Holy Cross, Wolcott, and St. Paul while the girls fell to both Holy Cross and Wolcott by slim margins. The boys’ closest score was a 79-71 win over the Crusaders. The girls lost their two meets by a combined 13 points, including a four-point loss to the Eagles. Event winners for the boys included Amanze Williams (long and high jumps), Jamaal Gee (triple jump, 100 meters), Dan Bronko (discus), Muad Hrezi (1,600 and 3,200), Jake Simons (400), and the 4-by-800 and 4-by-100 relay teams. Event winners for the girls included Shannon Hale (100 hurdles), Breanna Ritter (discus), and the 4-by-100 relay team. The ‘Hounds were set to run again on Wednesday against Seymour, Watertown, and Derby.

Golf

The Greyhounds’ golf season was scheduled to begin on Wednesday at Western Hills against Kennedy. The Hounds will travel to Torrington on Monday before heading to Oxford Greens to meet Woodland next Thursday.