HAWKS SOAR: Hudson softball heads to championship with come-from-behind win

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HAWKS SOAR: Hudson softball heads to championship with come-from-behind win
Hudson celebrates after the win. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

DARTMOUTH — Liv Connolly brings the energy — always.

It’s the clapping in the dugout, the high-fives with the pitcher, and cheering on her teammates. She’ll jump and shout to hype her teammates up. If Hudson’s done something good, you’ll hear it first from Connolly. The freshman’s presence — and passion — can be seen and felt across the field.

“I think just seeing all my teammates so excited was awesome. When we play our best is when we’re high-energy and there’s a lot of fun going on. I like to bring that to the team. When one of us starts to get a lot of energy, it spreads,” Connolly said.

That energy — the relentless enthusiasm and determination that the Hawks tap into whenever they can — has sent the team to the MIAA Division 3 softball championship. On June 12, the No. 3 Hudson Hawks defeated the No. 2 Apponequet Lakers, 6-4, in the semifinals to advance to the big game, which will be played Saturday at UMass Amherst.

It’s as Head Coach Laura Bowen says: “We’ve got some fire in our girls.”

HAWKS SOAR: Hudson softball heads to championship with come-from-behind win
Hudson’s Liv Connolly brings the energy as she stands on second base. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

The Hawks found themselves down 2-0 after the bottom of the second inning. While trailing in the semifinals may be daunting to some, it didn’t faze this battle-tested Hawks team. In the quarterfinals, the Hawks rallied back from an early 9-0 deficit against Triton to advance.

Hudson got to work almost immediately, scoring in the fourth. After surrendering another run to Apponequet the next inning, the Hawks registered four consecutive two-out hits to pull ahead 4-3. Connolly’s 2-RBI double accounted for most of the damage; she was screaming and pumping her fists triumphantly as she pulled into the base.

HAWKS SOAR: Hudson softball heads to championship with come-from-behind win
The Hawks celebrate after scoring a run. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

“This team clearly has not quit. You can see. The game was back-and-forth. I think that Triton game showed them that, even being down 9-0, you can come back from anything… I could not be more proud of every single one of them,” said Bowen.

“We’re all about making adjustments in the game. These kids are unselfish. They come back to the bench and talk about what they’re seeing,” she continued.

A resilient team in its own right, Apponequet pushed a run across in the sixth, but Livi Sousa kept the game in check. A second baseman by trade, Sousa had hardly pitched all year until Bowen put her on the mound in this win-or-go-home game. Sousa earned the win pitching three innings of two-hit softball, striking out four in the process.

HAWKS SOAR: Hudson softball heads to championship with come-from-behind win
Hudson’s Liv Connolly dives into home to score a run. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

“I knew in the moment she needed me and the team needed me. I just wanted to do it for them. Even though I was scared, I wanted to do it for them,” Sousa said.

With Sousa’s pitching holding off Apponequet — and ceaseless energy and enthusiasm from the dugout — the Hawks rallied in the seventh to clinch the win. Alyssa Davis’ one-out single got the offense started, and Lauren O’Malley drove her home to put Hudson ahead 5-4. Later, Audrey Lenox’s double plated O’Malley, giving the Hawks an insurance run.

“I was like, ‘I just have to get one little hit. Don’t try to do it all. Get her in,'” said O’Malley.

Just before Sousa retired the final batter to send her team to the championship game, a hawk glided over the trees near home plate, perching on a branch. It was a sign, said some spectating Hudson fans — a sign of just how high these Hudson Hawks can fly.

HAWKS SOAR: Hudson softball heads to championship with come-from-behind win
The Hudson Hawks gather on the mound prior to the start of the inning. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

Even though UMass Dartmouth, which hosted the semifinal game, isn’t remotely close to Hudson, Hawks fans showed up in droves to support the team of just 12 athletes. For the players — and the fans — the championship means everything, they said.

“I went [to the championship] as a player and a coach before. I’m just so happy that these kids get to experience that. Win or lose. The town is behind us, they’re getting stuff around school in the hallways and on social media,” said Bowen. “To think I’m going to the state finals with 12 kids… It’s unbelievable.”

“This is insane. It doesn’t feel real. Everyone thought that a team of 12 — we wouldn’t make it far,” Sousa told the Community Advocate.

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