BY KEVIN ROBERTS
WOLCOTT — Oxford High junior pitcher Shay Webb had a hard time believing what was happening in the Naugatuck Valley League softball tournament championship game against Woodland on May 25.
When Webb returned to the circle at Wolcott High’s George Babcock Softball Field, the Wolverines had a three-run lead against the rival Hawks.
“It was amazing. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this can’t be happening,’” Webb said. “They’ve been winning for two years now, and I was like, ‘We’re really going to do this.’”
Third-seeded Oxford did do it, defeating top-seeded Woodland, 3-0. The Wolverines (17-6) claimed their first NVL title since 2019 and third overall, and in the process put an end to the Hawks’ 49-game win streak. Oxford’s win also ended the Wolverines’ eight-game losing streak against Woodland (22-1) that began in 2021.
“Oh, we wanted it bad,” said Oxford’s Mikayla Walton, whose two-out double in the third inning scored Sienna Lucas (walk) for an early 1-0 lead.
Wolverine coach Jim Husar said his team deserved to win.
“I’m happy for the girls. I’m really, really happy for the girls,” Husar said.
Webb held a potent Woodland offense to just three hits. Two of those hits came back-to-back with one out in the fourth, but Webb (7 innings, 6 strikeouts, 1 walk) picked up a strikeout and pop out to Walton at shortstop to end the threat.
“On the bus ride here, our coach said that he and our pitcher Shay, they had a plan,” Walton said. “They stuck to the plan and that’s what got us that win.”
Webb helped Oxford pick up a couple insurance runs in the sixth inning. Maddy DeSombre led off with a single, then Lia Ward walked. Webb laced a single the other way to right field to score DeSombre. When a throw from the outfield was mishandled, Ward scored to make it 3-0.
“Shay hit the pitches she needed to hit today, and then she had that big hit,” Woodland coach Loren Luddy said. “They did a great job. Their outfield made a lot of catches. When we made solid contact, their outfield caught the ball, and we made a couple mistakes.”
Webb, who was named the tournament’s most outstanding player, had two of Oxford’s four hits off Woodland ace Sam Sosnovich (3 runs, 7 strikeouts, 4 walks). Sophomores Ella VanAlstyne and Paige Chiaramonte each had a single, as did junior Breanna Thurston.
“We know we’re young. We haven’t always played like we’re young, but we’re young,” Luddy said. “We only have four upperclassmen, and (Oxford was) hungry. They’ve come in second to us too many times. They wanted it, and they earned it today.”
Luddy said it’s tough when the other team knows your batters so well. Husar knows all too well the familiarity the two NVL Copper Division foes have with each other. The Wolverines lost four times to the Hawks last season, including the NVL and Class M state championship games.
“Shay pitched a great game. Woodland’s a great team. They’re a better team than us, but today we beat them,” Husar said. “Tomorrow could be a whole other story.”
After six losses to Woodland over the past two seasons, the seventh time turned out to be the charm for Oxford.
“They’re tough, and for them to put up with me, they have to be tough,” Husar said. “I’m happy for the girls, and now it’s time for the tournament.”
An eighth meeting could occur in the Class M state tournament, but not until the final since the teams are on opposite sides of the bracket.