2021 record: 23-1 overall
Postseason: NVL tournament champion; Class M semifinalist
Graduated: Samantha Benanto, Emily Beyer, May Dawes, Emma Krushinski
Seniors: Kylie Bulinski (C), Cassidy Doiron (1B), Chelsea Donovan (OF), Riley Kane (P/IF), Bella Kraemer (OF), Rory Nolan (OF)
Other key players: Samantha Sosnovich (P/IF), Peyton Filippone (UT), Breanna Thurston (3B), Lucia Rubano (IF)
First week of games: April 2 vs. Ansonia; April 4 vs. Torrington; April 6 vs. Oxford; April 8 at Watertown
A year ago, the Hawks won their first Naugatuck Valley League title since 2010 thanks in part to a two-homer game by Kylie Bulinski, who smashed a two-run walk-off in the league final against Naugatuck. Their dreams for a state title ended in the Class M semifinals with an upset loss to North Branford.
Bulinski, who earned NFCA All-America Second Team honors last year, may be the state’s top returning player and will play next season at the University of Rhode Island.
She’ll catch a tremendous pitching duo of Riley Kane, who committed to play at Western New England University, and Samantha Sosnovich.
“Woodland returns last year’s strong battery and a solid core of returning starters,” longtime coach Loren Luddy said. “We welcome to varsity a group of talented sophomores and freshman eager to feel the holes left by last year’s captains.
Woodland will have to replace two infielders, including leadoff hitter May Dawes, but the Hawks will be favored to repeat as league champions with most of last year’s lineup returning.
“We again are faced with a competitive division within the NVL and we hope to continue and build on last year’s success,” Luddy said.
– Kyle Brennan
2021 record: 19-5 overall (15-3 regular season)
Postseason: NVL tournament (2-1) – lost to Woodland in NVL final, 4-2. Class L (2-1) – defeated WCA, 12-0; defeated Enfield, 7-3; lost to St. Joseph, 9-0, in quarterfinal round.
Graduates: Sara Mancuso, Alyssa Hovey, Kayshia Diaz, Samantha Valentine and Alyssa Roberts.
Seniors: Kendall Allen (capt., C, All-State, All-NVL), Nadia Cestari (capt., 2B, All-Iron), Felicia Salvati (capt., SS, All-State, All-NVL), Samantha Mullin (capt., 3B, All-State, All-NVL), Cadence Hofmann (OF), Sophia Audi (P, Sacred Heart High transfer).
Season opener: at Wolcott, April 2 at 11 a.m.
Naugatuck did graduate its starting pitching, but returns three All-State/All NVL players to lead the way. Audi comes in with varsity pitching experience. A host of solid hitters will keep this team in the hunt with junior Lauryn Ramalho and sophomore Aryn Bombery adding to an already tough lineup.
Junior Skylynn Valle and sophomores Phoebe Jagello, Sophia Onofrio and Laniah Jolie-Diaz, will team up with freshmen Leah Chatfield and Melanie DeJesus to provide depth for the Greyhounds. Juniors Sydney Crockett and Steph Sutherland will join Chatfield to shore up the pitching.
“It’s great to see their uncovered smiling faces, able to breath and express themselves,” said coach Kevin Wesche, in his 21st year at the helm. “We have hitters that can make things happen, our outfield is young but gaining experience, and we have a new pitching staff. I feel we will gain experience at key positions and it should be a fun season.”
– Ken Morse
Spring sports previews: softball