Softball: Unbeaten Masuk ends Law's season in semis
The Masuk High softball team possesses one of the most potent offenses in the state of Connecticut, scoring double-digit runs in 13 of 25 contests throughout the regular season and playoffs.
On Tuesday afternoon in the Class L state semifinals at Biondi Field in West Haven, the top-seeded Panthers used yet another offensive onslaught to advance to the state final for the second time in three seasons.
Behind a 20-hit barrage, Masuk dispatched No. 13 seed Jonathan Law of Milford, 14-2, breaking open a 6-2 game with eight runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“We were here two years ago,” Masuk coach Leigh Barone said of reaching the championship game. “Especially having such a great season and going undefeated, I keep telling them the regular season is done and over with. You’re 20-0 but it’s a new season when you go into Divisions and states. And now they’re doing something with it.”
Senior shortstop Alexa Bacoulis led the charge for the Panthers (26-0), going 5-for-5 with three runs scored and four runs batted in.
Junior Megan McFarland and sophomore Maddie Procyk added four hits apiece, Erica Pullen notched three and ninth-place hitter Emily Lange chipped in with two base hits.
Law freshman ace Brianna Buccitti did her best in the circle to defuse Masuk’s electric bats, but Bacoulis’ towering two-run home run in the sixth inning triggered a deluge that turned a relatively-tight game into a 12-run win for the South-West Conference champions.
“They had hitters all the way through,” Law coach Melanie Blude said. “We tried to keep them off-balance with changeups and they just sat back, waited for the fastball and cranked it. They do a tremendous job offensively.”
Procyk’s two-run single in the bottom of the first inning provided Masuk with a 2-0 lead it would not relinquish and the Panthers got two more in the second.
“Our kids played a little nervous in the beginning,” Blude said. “They had a bunch of infield base hits which is just not characteristic of us. But they fought, we still had some great at-bats. Masuk just hits the ball.”
Pullen slugged a one-out opposite-field triple and scored on McFarland’s single to right field. McFarland would later come around to score on a wild pitch.
In the top of the fourth, Law plated the first run conceded by Masuk in the state tournament.
Kacy O’Connor singled and was replaced on the bases by courtesy runner Amanda Kandrach. After Skyler Bender reached on an error, freshman Maddie Lula lifted a sacrifice fly to make it 4-1.
Sam Schiebe, who worked six innings before Proyck threw a scoreless seventh, then got an inning-ending strikeout to protect the three-run cushion.
Bacoulis and Procyk registered run-scoring hits in the bottom of the fourth to extend Masuk’s lead to 6-1.
“We knew she (Buccitti) was throwing that off-speed pitch,” Barone said. “I didn’t want them jumping at that pitch. I told them if you have to, take a pitch. Make her throw you a fastball. They were patient at the plate… That definitely helped.”
Emily Morey pulled a run back for Law in the top of the sixth, with an RBI single that scored courtesy runner Maddie David.
Masuk put the game out reach in the home half of the frame, advancing to the state finals for the sixth time in school history.