Softball: Masuk advances to state final

Becca Tillotson raced home from second on a combined wild pitch/throwing error on Tuesday afternoon, giving the No. 2 seed Masuk softball team a 7-6 walk-off win over Foran in the Class L semifinals at Stratford’s Frank DeLuca Field. The Panthers will face Fitch for the state championship Friday at 7 p.m. at Biondi Field in West Haven.

The win, in a game where the lead changed hands five times, sends the 21-4 Panthers into the championship game against undefeated and top-ranked Fitch of Groton. The Falcons defeated fourth-seed Torrington, 3-0, in the other semi-round contest played at DeLuca Field.

Masuk will face Fitch (26-0) in the Class L final on Friday night at 7 p.m. at Biondi Field in West Haven.

Tillotson, one of four seniors who start for the Panthers, opened the ninth by drawing a walk off Foran’s starting and losing pitcher, Makenna Prete. She was sacrificed to second by Maggie Lebinski. With the count at 1-1against Alexa Bacoulis, Prete’s offering was high and outside, getting past Lions’ catcher Kayla Gosselin — who retrieved the ball as Tillotson was heading for third. Her throw went into left field, and Tillotson headed for home easily beating the throw.

“I saw the ball go past her (Foran third baseman Brittany Baker),” said Tillotson, “and I figured I could get to home before the left fielder (Kalie Mendola) got the ball there.”

After falling behind, 3-1, Foran, 19-6 under first-year coach Stephanie Dawid, scored three times in the fifth to take a 4-3 lead.

Masuk, which last played and beat Foran 3-2 in the 2013 Class L title game, came right back, adding three runs of its own in the bottom half to re-take a 6-4 lead.

Foran rebounded again, getting two more in the sixth and had a bases-loaded, two-out situation in the seventh. After fouling off two pitches, Natalia Hart hit a grounder back toward the mound which was fielded by Sam Schiebe — who came home for the final out of the half inning.

“It was a big opportunity for us,” Dawid said. “She (Hart) just missed it. I’m still very proud of these players. They showed great resilience today.”

Foran committed four errors and the Panthers made a pair.

Schiebe struggled at times, walking eight while striking out five.

Both Hart and Baker had two hits apiece for Foran which made it to the semifinals for the first time since 2013.

Masuk got home runs from Lebinski (two-run) in the third and a solo shot from Alexandra Lichvar in the fourth.

“We’re excited, but nervous about going to the final,” said Masuk’s second-year coach Leigh Barone. “We hung in today and came through when we needed to.”

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