BETHEL — Newtown High School’s softball team has found its offensive groove after consecutive setbacks at the hands of two of the South-West Conference’s top teams interrupted the Nighthawk’s winning ways.
The Nighthawks outscored visiting New Milford 9-6 on May 10, topped the host Bethel Wildcats 9-3 on May 13, and went on the road and blanked Stratford 12-0 on May 14 to improve to 13-5 overall (11-3 in South-West Conference play).
The back-to-back nine-run performances followed a shutout loss to Masuk of Monroe and a loss to Lauralton Hall of Milford, which held Newtown to two runs.
Newtown used a pair of four-run innings to knock off Bethel. Mikayla Kuligowski had two hits and two runs scored; Jess Gibbons was 2-for-3 with a trio of runs batted in; Emily Woznick had a hit and drove in two runs; Dani Shine had a hit and drove in three; Kate Laaksonen was 3-for-4 with a couple of doubles and two runs driven in; and Courtney Escoda added a run-producing single.
After Bethel had trimmed into a four-run deficit to pull to within 4-2, Newtown broke the game wide open in the sixth inning. Gibbons turned a 5-2 lead into a 7-2 advantage with a clutch single.
In the win over New Milford a few days earlier, the Hawks clubbed 13 hits in a back and forth battle. Kuligowski was 3-for-4 with two runs scored; Kayla O’Grady was 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI and a run scored; Woznick had two hits, two RBI, and two runs scored; Shine was 3-for-4 with a pair of runs driven in, and a run scored; and Abi Kuligowski had a hit and an RBI.
“I think, more and more, the girls are hitting and I think when they’re up, they’re up and if they stay up they can do good things the next couple of games,” Newtown Coach Tara Allegretto said after the Bethel game.
Gillian Galante improved to 9-4 with the two victories. She struck out six batters in the New Milford game.
Allegretto has been pleased with her team’s efforts, especially recently when they have played some solid softball.
“It’s a great group of girls and they work hard — and I think they really want to win. And when they come ready to play, they execute,” the coach said.
In the win over Stratford, pitcher Lauren Wilcox improved to 4-1. She threw a two-hitter in a five-inning run-rule victory, striking out six along the way.
Shine drilled a homerun over the centerfield fence and was 2-for-3 with three runs batted in. O’Grady had two hits, including a double, drove in two, and scored three; Gibbons had two hits and three RBI; Woznick was 2-for-3, including a two-bagger, and knocked in a pair; Laaksonen was 2-for-3 with a double; Escoda went 2-for-2 with an RBI; and Mikayla Kuligowski added two hits and two runs scored.
Newtown lost 13-6 to Brookfield on May 15 in a battle for the fourth and fifth spots in the upcoming SWC tournament, with the teams to face each other again in the opening round. Home field advantage was on the line, so Newtown will visit Brookfield in a rematch on May 21. Newtown was slated to close out the campaign at Oxford on May 16.
“I think we can be really competitive. I think we have been competitive in the conference and, if they keep it up, they’ll be in good shape,” Allegretto said.