Target is larger on Hawks’ backs after second straight title

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Here is a capsule preview of the Woodland softball team.
2023 results: 26-1; NVL runner-up; Class M champion
Key players: Lucia Rubano (Sr., 1B), Breanna Thurston (Sr., 3B), Ella VanAlstyne (Jr., P/OF), Julia Rowley (Jr., C/3B), Paige Chiaramonte (Jr., 2B/C), Chloe Cervone (Jr., OF), Cassie Lynch (Jr., OF), Emma DeGeorge (So., OF), Kate Lisowski (So., SS), Caitlyn Braun (So., P/UT)
Key losses: Samantha Sosnovich, Peyton Filippone
Outlook: Back-to-back state championships have painted a target firmly on the backs of the Hawks, but a pair of returning All-State stars will try to make sure Woodland doesn’t miss a beat this spring.
Ella Van Alstyne will take on a larger role in the pitching circle for the two-time defending state champion Woodland softball team this spring.
Junior pitcher Ella Van Alstyne and junior catcher Julia Rowley enjoyed breakout seasons a year ago. Rowley was the backstop for the nearly untouchable Samantha Sosnovich, who pitched shutouts in each of the last two Class M championship games. Van Alstyne, who started in the outfield and also saw time in the circle, will get her chance to continue
Woodland’s line of championship-winning pitchers.
“We are excited to see what our new pitching battery will achieve,” said Loren Luddy, the first and only head coach in program history.
They’ll also anchor the top of the lineup as bats with plenty of power and consistency, and they’ll co-captain the team with senior infielders Lucia Rubano and Breanna Thurston.
The Hawks return three other starters from the state final: shortstop Kate Lisowski, outfielder Emma DeGeorge, and utility player Paige Chiaramonte.
“We have juniors, sophomores, and freshmen working hard to crack the starting lineup,” Luddy said. “Practices have been fun and productive.”
Oxford upset Woodland in last year’s NVL final, giving the Hawks their only loss of the last two seasons, and Luddy expects the league to be among the state’s best again. Woodland will open the season Saturday at Holy Cross before hosting Watertown on April 1 and Brookfield on April 3.
“The NVL continues to place multiple teams in the state championship’s late rounds and finals,” Luddy said. “The new divisional play will lead to strong competition and many good games.”