Softball: Fitch fends off Masuk in state final

Fitch High of Groton scratched across two first-inning runs against Masuk High in the Class L state softball final on Friday night at Biondi Field in West Haven.

Behind an MVP performance from Gatorade State Player of the Year Caroline Taber, the top-seeded Falcons made those markers stand up in a 2-0 victory over the Panthers. It was the second state title in three years for Fitch, who completed the season 27-0 overall and in all likelihood will finish atop the state’s poll next week.

The Princeton-bound Taber struck out 11 and scattered four hits, setting down nine in a row to start the game before Maggie Lebinski (2-for-3) punched a two-out single to center field in the fourth inning.

Masuk, the No. 2 seed, had four hits off of Taber over the final four frames, but the senior finished off the shutout to carry the Falcons to the title. In the top of the seventh inning, Lebinski hit a sharp lead-off single to center field. Taber then reared back and recorded a pair of strikeouts and an infield pop to complete the Falcons’ perfect season.

Panther freshman Sam Schiebe battled all night in the circle for Masuk (21-5) after a rocky start. She issued a one-out walk to Taylor Wolfgang in the bottom of the first, before Taber singled up the middle. After Jonell Hobert walked, Jayden Delaporta grounded out to shortstop Alexa Bacoulis to make it 1-0. A wild pitch by Schiebe (four hits, five walks) allowed courtesy runner Casey Flax to score from third, making it 2-0, before Schiebe got Rylee MacMillan to ground back to the circle for the final out.

That was all the offense Fitch could muster, as Schiebe settled down and relied on her defense, led by Bacoulis and Lebinski in right field. Lebinski started a key 9-3 double play to defuse a Falcon threat in the bottom of the sixth.

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