Foran felled by Masuk in Class L final
Masuk High won the Class L state softball title in stunning walk-off fashion on Wednesday afternoon, fighting back to clip Foran High, 3-2, at Biondi Field in West Haven.
The top-seeded Panthers trailed 2-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh, but stormed back to claim the championship victory, aided by a consecutive two-out errors committed by the eighth-seeded Lions during the frame.
Title game most valuable player Ashley Fedor won the game for Masuk, grounding a two-run single back through the circle that ticked off the glove of diving Lion second baseman Ashley Mendillo — driving in courtesy runners Jana Migliaro and Hailey Kobza with the decisive runs.
“Ashley Fedor was clutch,” Panther coach Jacqui Sheftz said. “Not a nerve in her body. She took the bull by the horns and made it happen.”
Masuk finished the season at 27-0 and captured the fourth softball title in school history — its first since 2008.
Foran (22-6), meanwhile, was left to ponder what might have been.
A squeeze bunt by Fallon Bevino plated Dani Kemp in the top of fourth inning and a two-out, seventh-inning RBI single by Gina Georgetti — the Lions’ first hit of the game off of Masuk ace Tatum Buckley — staked Foran to a 2-0 edge. The Lions needed just three outs to secure their second state championship in three years.
“We had the three outs,” Lion coach Jeff Bevino said. “We just didn’t make them.”
Foran ended up only getting two of them in the book, as Brittany DaMota led off with a sharp single to center field on a 1-2 pitch from Lion ace Jess Harkness.
After Kayla Crisci struck out and Lauren Middlemass hit into a fielder’s choice, Harkness got Buckley, the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year, to hit a slow roller to second base.
The exchange to shortstop for the attempted forceout was misplayed, giving Masuk its first lifeline.
The second lifeline came when Steph Appelberg followed with a sharp line drive to left field that was dropped, allowing Middlemass to score to make it 2-1.
Fedor, who had two hits, then worked the count into her a favor at 2-1, hitting a sharp grounder up the middle just out of the reach of Mendillo. The Lions attempted to cut down Kobza at the plate, but the speedy freshman beat the throw with plenty of time to spare — igniting a raucous Panther celebration.
“The prepared are sometimes the lucky ones,” Sheftz said. “We had the mindset to not give up… That’s why you play seven innings.”
Buckley allowed one hit, one walk and struck out six. Harkness, her counterpart, scattered five hits, struck out six and walked three.
Harkness carried a no-hitter into the bottom of the fifth, when Fedor slashed a single to left field. Fallon Bevino preserved the one-run Lion lead with a leaping snare of Kyla Cannon’s liner to right field to end the inning, before Foran added to its lead in the seventh.
Mendillo reached on a two-out error, stole second and scored when Georgetti dumped a single to shallow center field.
Masuk persevered, capitalizing on Foran’s miscues in the bottom of the seventh to win the state title.
“It’s really disheartening,” Jeff Bevino said. “I’m sick for these girls, I really am. I can’t find words. Hats off to Masuk for not quitting.”