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They say good things come to those who wait.
For Newtown High School’s softball team, maybe the phrase should be “close wins come to teams that wait.” Then again, season-starting victories over Norwalk and Darien were good things for the Nighthawks.
The Hawks, who had their first two games of the season postponed because of weather/field conditions, hosted Norwalk — a day after the contest was originally scheduled but washed out by rain no less — on Thursday, April 5, and pulled out a 6-5 victory. Two days later, Newtown edged another FCIAC team, visiting Darien, 3-2. Both games were decided with the tie-breaking run scored in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Against Norwalk, the Nighthawks jumped out to a 3-0 lead after one inning of play, and responded to three Norwalk runs in the top of the fourth with two of their own for a 5-3 lead, only to see the Bears score twice in the sixth to make it a brand-new game. Norwalk capitalized on two Nighthawk errors in the sixth to pull even.
In the bottom of the sixth, Newtown pitcher and No. 3 hitter Sara Kennedy — the Villanova-bound senior captain — belted her second double of the game with one out, and scored the decisive run on a clutch, two-out single by sophomore and varsity-newcomer Angela Carriero.
“I feel spoiled with Sara. I expect big things from her,” said Newtown Coach Joanna Closs, adding that both sixth-inning hits were huge. “Big moment, first varsity game. She looked cool as a cucumber out there,” Closs said of Carriero.
In the first inning, No. 2 hitter Kendra Saunders blasted a one-out double and was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple. Kennedy followed with a two-bagger off the wall. Shannon Cheh had an RBI single, and two Norwalk errors and a fielder’s choice plated two more runs.
After the Bears tied the game, Newtown leadoff hitter Jackie Moccio had a one out double in the fourth. Saunders singled, Kennedy walked, and Shannon Cech singled to drive in the go-ahead run. Carriero reached on a fielder’s choice, and Ryssa Swanson worked a two-out bases-loaded walk to force in the fifth Newtown run.
“They were a great team. It was a great test for us,” Closs, Newtown’s first-year head coach, said after the win over Norwalk. “It feels nice to get the first win out of the way. It was a good team win. We made some mistakes but we kept fighting, kept fighting.”
“It was a really exciting game. I’m happy we came out with the win,” added Kennedy, who had 11 strikeouts.
Kennedy fanned a dozen Darien batters and helped the Nighthawks overcome a 2-0 first-inning deficit, allowing six hits and five walks on her way to victory. The Hawks scored in the second and fifth innings to tie the game. Tess Mubarek drove in the first NHS run, and the second scored on an error. Mubarek singled up the middle, eventually moved to third base, and scored the decisive run on Moccio’s sacrifice fly to right field.
Newtown is scheduled to host Joel Barlow of Redding on Wednesday, April 11, at 4:15 pm, the first of four games in as many days and five tilts in six days, necessitated by those early-season postponements. NHS is to play a makeup game at St Joseph of Trumbull on Thursday, April 12, and will visit Masuk of Monroe on Friday, April 13, both also at 4:15 pm, before a makeup contest at Ridgefield, on Saturday, April 14, starting at 11 am. The Hawks are slated to visit Pomperaug of Southbury on Monday, April 16, starting at 4:15 pm.