This past Wednesday night, the Naugatuck High School softball field was the place to be. The stands around the field were packed with Woodland students, teachers, and parents, all gathered to support the Hawks in their NVL final against Naugatuck. The game was a nail-biter, with the teams tied up right until the bottom of the seventh inning. The Woodland girls pulled out the victory, securing the NVL Championship for the first time since 2010.
Loren Luddy, head Woodland softball coach, attributes all of the team’s success to the players.
“They wanted this NVL Championship starting from the end of the season two years ago. Even when we couldn’t work as a team in 2020, they worked by themselves. It’s been their goal for so long.”
Every member of the team was essential in the Hawks’ victory. From Kylie Bulinski hitting the winning walk-off homerun, to Emma Krushinski, Samantha Benanto, Natalie Fagan, Lucia Rubano and Peyton Filippone supporting in the dugout, everyone contributed to the NVL win.
“We need every one of those fifteen kids, every day.”
“One of our biggest challenges was getting everybody melded together in all of their positions,” Luddy said. “But they’ve just been goal-minded since day one. It hasn’t been hard to get them to work hard.”
Riley Kane and Samantha Sosnovich are the team’s varsity pitchers. During Wednesday’s game, Kane pitched through the sixth inning and Sosnovich finished the Hawks out during the top of the seventh inning.
“We’re lucky that we have two really good pitchers,” Luddy explained, “because we can keep the other team on their toes. As soon as they make adjustments based on one pitcher, we can change it up so they don’t know what to expect.”
Kylie Bulinski hit the walk-off home run during the bottom of the seventh inning, securing the victory for the Hawks. She was named MVP of the NVL tournament.
“When the ball finally went over the fence,” Bulinski said, “it felt great because I realized it was the first time that Woodland had won NVLs in ten years.”
Other hitters include May Dawes, Samantha Sosnovich, Isabella Kraemer, Riley Kane, Emily Beyer, Cassidy Doiron, Rory Nolan, and Breanna Thurston. The Woodland girls show extreme dedication to their sport.
“May Dawes hit a line-drive yesterday and got a cramp in her calf running down the base,” Luddy revealed. “But she went out in the top of the seventh and made a scoop play like nothing had ever happened.”
While Woodland is known for their phenomenal hitting, something that is lesser talked about is their impressive defense.
Luddy said of Doiron, first baseman, “I don’t know how many times I’ve seen her go into a full-out split to make an out.” Nolan, Donovan, and Kraemer, who play outfield, all made spectacular catches during Wednesday’s game.
And Woodland softball doesn’t just plan to stop at NVLs.
“I think we have a chance at winning states,” Luddy said. “But we have to work for it.”