Woodland firing on all cylinders

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Woodland’s Samantha Lee winds up to deliver a pitch as Stephanie Kiley settles in at shortstop Monday morning versus Wolcott in Beacon Falls. The Hawks won, 8-0. Lee allowed two hits and had seven strike outs in the game. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Woodland’s Samantha Lee winds up to deliver a pitch as Stephanie Kiley settles in at shortstop Monday morning versus Wolcott in Beacon Falls. The Hawks won, 8-0. Lee allowed two hits and had seven strike outs in the game. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — Everything is clicking early in the season for the Woodland softball team.

The Hawks are one of just three unbeaten teams in Naugatuck Valley League play after dismantling Wolcott, 8-0, on Monday and crushing Ansonia, 24-5, on Tuesday. Woodland stands at 6-1 overall and 6-0 in the NVL.

“I knew we were a tough team coming in,” senior second baseman Brooke Leshin said. “We had a lot of returning players. We’re looking good.”

The Hawks wasted no time jumping on Wolcott during their Monday morning contest. Woodland scored two in the first, three in the second and two in the fourth to take a commanding, 7-0 lead.

One was all the Hawks needed, though, thanks to more outstanding pitching by junior Samantha Lee. She notched her second shutout in a row and allowed just two hits while striking out seven.

Woodland’s Brianna Pacileo hauls in a pop fly Monday morning versus Wolcott in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Woodland’s Brianna Pacileo hauls in a pop fly Monday morning versus Wolcott in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

“She’s been working very hard,” Woodland head coach Loren Luddy said. “She’s been working on throwing a number of different pitches for strikes. Her right fielder (Courtney Jurzynski) was eating up everything for her.”

Leshin (two hits, three runs, RBI), Lee (three hits, RBI), Brianna Pacileo (two hits, RBI), Cameron Caswell (two hits, two runs, RBI), Nicole Fowler (two hits, two RBI), Rachel Starkey (two hits, two RBI) and Steph Kiley (two hits, two runs) all had multi-hit efforts as Woodland pounded 15 hits on the day.

“We’re working hard in practice and taking good swings every day,” Leshin said. “We’re connecting in games.”

The Hawks loaded the bases in the first and fourth innings. The first six hitters of the game all reached base, and only two of Woodland’s 15 hits were for extra bases—a sign to Luddy that the team isn’t trying to do too much at the plate.

“They’re doing a good job swinging at strikes and not fishing the ball,” Luddy said. “They’re doing a nice job of hitting the ball to where it’s pitched.”

Woodland’s Cameron Caswell connects for a hit Monday morning versus Wolcott in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Woodland’s Cameron Caswell connects for a hit Monday morning versus Wolcott in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Luddy said the team’s come-from-behind, 5-4 victory over league favorite Seymour on April 8 sparked confidence in the Hawks. They scored two runs in both the seventh and eighth innings to knock off the defending NVL champion.

“I think they have a good amount of confidence,” Luddy said. “They’re a really hard-working team. They don’t take a minute off in practice. It’s made them work even harder because they saw how good they could be.”

Woodland is probably considered second in the league to Torrington (8-0), last year’s runner-up. The Red Raiders feature the league’s best pitcher in left-hander Sydney Matzko, who has allowed just four runs all season. The Hawks will host Torrington for the only time this regular season Friday at 3:45 p.m. Woodland will also host Naugatuck on Monday.

“It feels great,” Leshin said of being in league contention. “It should be an interesting finish to the season.”