Masuk softball team routs Law, advances to state title game

The Masuk High softball team possesses one of the most potent offenses in 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 13th-seed Jonathan Law of Milford, 14-2, breaking open a 6-2 game with eight runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.

The Panthers will now face SWC rival Brookfield in the Class L finals either Friday or Saturday at a site and time to be announced. Brookfield, the third seed, defeated second-seed Daniel Hand, 6-5, in the other semifinal Tuesday.

“We were here two years ago,” said Masuk coach Leigh Barone of reaching the state 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 [the conference playoffs] 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, while Erica Pullen had three hits and Emily Lange chipped in with two 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 rout for the South-West Conference champions.

“They had hitters all the way through,” said Law coach Melanie Blude about Masuk. “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 runs in the second. Pullen slugged a one-out opposite-field triple and scored on McFarland’s single to right field. McFarland later scored on a wild pitch.

“Our kids played a little nervous in the beginning,” said Blude. “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.”

In the top of the fourth, Law scored 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.

Masuk starter 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,” said Barone. “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.

But Masuk followed with its eight-run explosion in the bottom of the inning to put the game out reach and advance to the state finals for the sixth time in school history.

Erica Pullen and the Masuk softball team are headed to the Class L state finals. — Andy Hutchison photo

Erica Pullen and the Masuk softball team are headed to the Class L state finals. — Andy Hutchison photo

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