Experience proved to be beneficial for Newtown High School’s softball team when a strong roster of returnees improved on its previous season’s record with three more victories. Coming off a 13-7 regular season (11-4 in conference play) in 2013, this year’s version of the Nighthawks — also a familiar looking squad — hopes to again build off its previous season’s success.
The Nighthawks, who fell in the quarterfinal round of the South-West Conference Tournament and in the second round of the Class LL state bracket, lost only two players to graduation.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that they were key contributors: Courtney Escoda and standout Jess Gibbons, the latter of whom joined current Manhattan College senior Kate Bowen on the school’s short list of 100-hit club members.
Coach Bob Guererra, who has been at it with the Nighthawks since 2006, returns full time after a short-term medical issue sidelined him for some of last season. Guererra has reason to believe this could be a good season for his Hawks.
“We have an experienced group coming back and hope that that element will help us be consistent on offense and defense. We had a good offensive year last year and with everyone having another season under their belt I hope that trend will continue,” he said.
Last spring, Newtown had double-digit offensive performances nine times and had another couple of games in which it scored nine runs.
Guererra knows it’ll take more than slugging to get the job done.
“We need to defend and will be relying on our pitching to keep us in contention all season. It’s a good group of dedicated players and I am very optimistic about our prospects this season,” he added.
This year’s captains are left fielder Abi Kuligowski and first baseman Danielle Shine. They are among seven returning starters, including Mikayla Kuligowski, Kayla O’Grady, Emily Woznick, Karlie Kuligowski, and Katie Laaksonen.
The Hawks also have a couple of pitchers accustomed to performing in the varsity circle with junior Gillian Galante and sophomore Lauren Wilcox back in the mix.
Newtown stands to get tough competition from the likes of usual SWC foes Masuk of Monroe and Oxford, both of which shut out the otherwise offensively explosive Hawks last year.
The Nighthawks were scheduled to begin the season with three straight games against FCIAC opponents — Trumbull, Danbury, and St Joseph of Trumbull, then host SWC foe Oxford at 4:15 pm on Tuesday, April 15.