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Defending Champion Softball Squad Seeks SWC Repeat ... And More



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Coming off a run to the South-West Conference Championship last spring, Newtown High School’s softball team is looking to not only repeat the feat but potentially add a state title trophy to the hardware collection this go-around.

The Nighthawks have a new head coach as Megan Goyda steps in. Goyda is a former NHS player and two-time conference champ (Class of 2017) who went on to play at Springfield College where she became a student coach and then served as an assistant coach with the Newtown High team last spring.

“We ideally would love to go back-to-back with SWC championships. This team definitely has the skills and the experience to do it. It’s also a large goal of ours to return to the state semifinals and hopefully advance to the state finals,” Goyda said. “In order to achieve those goals I think, we have to be ready to compete each and every day. It’s a long, difficult road, and finding a balance of working hard without getting burnt out is key. We have to constantly remind ourselves of what we want to achieve and when the length of the season starts to show itself, remind ourselves why we’re really here.”

There is plenty of talent and experience on the field but just how the pieces come together may vary from day to day as the campaign unfolds — and that juggling act may, in part, be key to whatever success this squad achieves.

“We are very deep. We have a lot of strong athletes who could fill several different roles. Each and every day each student-athlete’s role may change. We are going to be very fluid this year with positions and lineups,” Goyda said. “This is really great but can also be a curse so being able to execute specific roles each day is going to be important. I would like us to become more confident and aggressive on the base paths throughout the entire lineup.”

Senior captains are catcher/shortstop Bri Pellicone and outfielders Julia Berry and Rachel Casagrande.

Other key returnees include senior middle infielder Caitlin Milks; juniors: pitcher Maddie Thoesen, looking to be the team’s ace in the circle, Goyda said, as well as third baseman/catcher Sophia Caruso and second baseman Sarah Hubner; and sophomores: middle infielder Addy Cordova, first baseman Gabby Ansman, and outfielder Lila Accousti.

Among the graduates was standout pitcher Sydney Adolfson, so Thoesen (who has committed to pitch and play shortstop at Central Connecticut State University in a couple years) and company will have to step up in that capacity. In addition to Thoesen, the Hawks have three other players who have also solidified college softball plans with Pellicone to play at Barry University in Miami, Fla., Berry is headed to Colby College in Waterville, Maine, and Milks on her way to Western Connecticut State University.

“We are very solid. Our hitting is looking to be like a strong asset for us. We have a lot of strength at the plate, a lot of aggressive mindsets, and a lot of speed. I think offensively for us, you are going to see a lot of production,” Goyda anticipates. “We also have great pitching. Maddie Thoesen, Addy Cordova, and Rheya Litke are going to combine for some great innings on the mound. And lastly we have some very strong IQs on the team. Most of our girls love to not only play the game but study it too, and I feel like that’s going to help us tremendously when it comes to game strategy and execution.”

Last year, Newtown dethroned an SWC powerhouse Masuk of Monroe lineup that had captured each of the previous five conference crowns. Masuk again is expected to be one of the most formidable conference foes, if not the biggest threat to the Nighthawks. But the Hawks also have to be prepared for teams such as those from private schools Notre Dame-Fairfield and Immaculate of Danbury, Goyda said.

Out of conference, FCIAC teams Trumbull and St Joseph of Trumbull stand to be challenging.

“We open with both of them so our team will be put to the test early,” said Goyda, whose team begins the slate at Trumbull High Saturday, March 30 at noon before the home opener against St Joes Monday, April 1 at 4:30.

The Hawks will also play Shepaug Valley, Waterford, and Fairfield Warde. The Masuk game will be at Treadwell Park on Friday May 3; first pitch for that one is 7 o’clock.

“This group is eager. They are ready to get after it and make a name for themselves. I’m excited to see how their hard work and dedication pays off and how they not only battle the tough teams on our schedule but the tough spring weather as well. Again, we have a lot of talent — I can’t wait to see how each and every girl contributes to our teams success and hopefully we can bring home another title, or two,” Goyda said.

Sports Editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at andyh@thebee.com.

Maddie Thoesen is greeted at home plate after crushing a home run.
Gabby Ansman, a freshman, homered on the second varsity pitch she saw in a 7-2 win over St Joseph on April 3, and has continued her hot hitting. —Bee Photos, Hutchison
Maddie Thoesen watches the flight the ball off her bat as it sails over the left field wall. Thoesen also singled, doubled, and tripled top hit for the cycle.
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