Wins Over Masuk Highlight Newtown High Softball’s Success This Spring
If there was ever a game circled on the Newtown High School softball schedule with as much anticipation as a postseason contest — if not more — it was the team’s visit to Masuk of Monroe on May 17.
After all, the five-time South-West Conference champion Masuk Panthers have been the team to beat and Newtown, as this season has unfolded, appeared poised to at least have a decent chance at beating Masuk for the first time since 2017.
Fast forward to the game and, the Nighthawks got it done — in convincing fashion with an 8-2 triumph.
“I’ve never beaten them and it feels so good to finally get a win against them. They’re so good every year,” said NHS Coach Joanna Closs, a former softball player who graduated from Newtown High in 2008 and began coaching her alma mater in 2018.
The win included pitcher Sydney Adolfson logging her 500th career strikeout. Adolfson surrendered two runs on three hits over seven innings, striking out seven and walking three — Masuk’s tough batters tripled Adolfson’s walk total for the entire year but, after a shaky start which led to a 2-1 Panther lead in the first, the Newtown pitcher settled in and stymied Masuk’s typically potent bats.
Julia Berry went 2-for-3 with a double and a single. Brianna Pellicone went 4-for-4 with two singles, a double and a homerun. Adolfson went 2-for-4 with a single and a double. Gabby Ansman and Sopha Caruso both went 1-for-3 with a single.
The Masuk game was a preview for the South-West Conference Championship matchup on May 25. And a precursor of things to come as the Nighthawks topped the Panthers 8-0 behind MVP Adolfson's three-hitters and stellar performance at the plate. Adolfson homered and drove in six runs.
The regular season ended with a 13-1 win at Stratford on May 18. Addison Cordova, a freshman, hit her fourth home run. Maddie Thoesen hit her team-leading seventh homer, and Pellicone went deep for the second day in a row. Pitcher Caroline Gardner got the nod and recorded her 100th career strikeout.
“It’s been so much fun. I can only imagine bringing it home, keeping these wins coming,” Gardner said of her team’s success after the Nighthawks toppled New Fairfield 14-0 in a five-inning, mercy-rule triumph in the SWC tourney quarterfinals, on May 19.
Pellicone, the team’s starting catcher, said the team’s high level of energy is paramount to its success. “Energy can make or break a team,” Pellicone said.
Adolfson shut down the Rebels with strong performance from the circle, allowing one hit and striking out 11.
Adolfson may have to be in a zone — the strike zone — to have success, but it helps to have so much run support on any given day or night.
“It’s definitely a confidence boost. Pitching with great offense is very nice,” said Adolfson who, along with her battery-mate Pellicone, believes the offensive support puts her at ease.
In the win over New Fairfield, leadoff batter Berry set the table with a 3-for-3 performance — all singles. She also walked, stole two bases, and scored four times.
Cordova, Ansman, and Rachel Casagrande all smacked doubles.
Newtown jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, went ahead 4-0 after two, and built a 7-0 lead in the third before blowing the game open with a seven spot in the fourth.
In the three-run third, Cordova and Ansman delivered back-to-back extra-base hits for a 5-0 lead, Berry beat out an infield single to drive in a run, and Thoesen added an RBI single.
The Nighthawks dominated in the semifinals, blanking Notre Dame-Fairfield 12-0 at DeLuca Field on May 23 behind Adolfson’s two-hitter. Thoesen drove in three runs and has 41 runs batted in this spring. Cordova hit a two-run home run, Pellicone went 2-for-2, and Berry went 4-for-4 and has collected 38 hits and scored 39 runs out of the leadoff spot this spring.
Sports Editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at email@example.com.