Woodland softball overcomes nerves, finishes perfect regular season

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BY KEVIN ROBERTS

REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

When the Woodland High softball team arrived at Newtown High School for their top 10 state showdown against the Nighthawks on May 16, there was a lot going on.

There was a press box with a public address announcer, music was blaring, and the Nighthawks were honoring home plate umpire Rich Calitro, who had officiated more than 150 games in the town over the past 35 years and is retiring after this season. There was also state media on hand to cover the much-anticipated matchup.

It was a lot to take in for the mostly youthful Hawks, who started three sophomores and two freshmen against the Nighthawks.

“These girls haven’t seen that before. They’re young. They weren’t here last year, so it took us a little bit to settle down,” Woodland coach Loren Luddy said.

Once the Hawks did settle in, they were able to rally and pull off their most exciting win of a 20-0 regular season, by posting a 3-2 comeback victory. Julia Rowley played the heroine for the day with a two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning.

“It felt really good to change up the mood and get the job done,” senior co-captain Peyten Filippone said about the game, which had a state tournament atmosphere to it.

The Hawks fell behind by two runs after one inning, and Nighthawk senior ace Sydney Adolfson was piling up strikeouts early on.

“I think it’s the best we’re going to see the rest of the way,” said Woodland’s senior ace and co-captain, Sam Sosnovich. “She had great spin. She is a very, very good pitcher.”

Sosnovich sensed the nerves that her team had early on.

“I just think in the very beginning we were tight, and we needed to loosen up,” Sosnovich said.

Woodland finally made a dent in Newtown’s lead in the top of the fifth inning. With two outs, Julia Rowley tripled the other way into the right field corner.

Ella VanAlstyne doubled the other way into the left field corner to score Rowley. That’s a pair of sophomores who came up big in a tight spot.

Rowley offered up another clutch hit with her two-run homer in the seventh. The experience is something that should only help the Hawks as they begin postseason play.

“Well now you’ve been there, and that’s great,” Luddy said she told her team afterward. “Now, when tournament time comes, you’ve been there before, so no more stress.”

Woodland has won 47 straight games and finished the last three regular seasons with unbeaten records.

Luddy, who professed to not paying much attention to the win streak, said she will now that the postseason has arrived.

“Now I do, because it’s tournament time so you’ve got to keep the streak going,” Luddy said with a smile. “If the streak ends now, the season ends.”