Perfection: Masuk softball team caps unbeaten year with state title

The Masuk High softball team's players and coaches celebrate after Friday night's 10-0 win in the Class L state finals. — Andy Hutchison photo

The Masuk High softball team’s players and coaches celebrate after Friday night’s 10-0 win in the Class L state finals. — Andy Hutchison photo

 

One of the few close games the Masuk High softball team had this spring was a 6-4 regular-season victory over Brookfield.

With the stakes much greater, the rematch was no contest.

Top-seed Masuk jumped out to an early lead and breezed to a 10-0 triumph over third-seed Brookfield in the Class L state championship game Friday night at West Haven High School.

The triumph capped a storybook season for the Panthers, who went 27-0 and won conference and state titles.

Pitcher Sam Schiebe and Masuk’s potent offense set the tone early. Schiebe struck out the first nine Brookfield batters she faced and ended the game with a two-hit shutout and 15 strikeouts. Brookfield’s two hits were of the infield variety.

Masuk’s offense delivered from the get-go with a two-run opening inning. Leadoff batter Erica Pullen singled up the middle and Megan McFarland followed with one of her two triples for a 1-0 lead. The second run scored when Gretchen Bunovsky put down a bunt and reached on an error.

That was all the Panthers would need as Schiebe, who shared tournament MVP honors with McFarland, buzzed through a Brookfield lineup that had made things interesting during the regular-season meeting.

The Panthers added three runs in both the third and fourth innings to seize an 8-0 advantage.

Pullen worked a leadoff walk in the third. McFarland duplicated her opening-inning feat with another run-producing triple to right for a 3-0 lead. In more first-inning replication, Bunovsky bunted and reached on an error while another run scored. A clean RBI single by Maddie Procyk pushed the lead to 5-0.

In the fourth, it was more of the same. Pullen walked with one out and McFarland delivered another extra-base hit, stretching a grounder to the outfield into a double to put two runners in scoring position. Bunovsky drove in the sixth run with a bunt single, and Alexa Bacoulis smacked a two-run double to left center for an 8-0 cushion.

Masuk tacked on a pair of runs in the fifth to record its 15th double-digit scoring outburst this spring.

“It feels amazing,” Schiebe said. “Hitting really helped us a lot. We started off really early.”

Masuk coach Leigh Barone said the difference between the two games was her team’s patience at the plate against Brookfield pitcher Alyssa Lionetti.

“We knew we were jumping at her pitching [in the regular-season game]. This time we took a few pitches at the plate,” Barone said. “We wanted to sit back and wait and make her throw more pitches, which we did. We were solid at the plate, and our base running was clutch today.”

Barone added that the Panthers also fielded the ball well.

Pullen had two singles, two walks and four runs scored for Masuk. In addition to her three hits and two RBIs, McFarland walked and scored three runs. Bunovsky contributed two hits, four runs scored and four RBIs, and Bacoulis finished with three hits and three RBIs.

Katie Welch (single), Emily Lange (run) and Allie Lichvar aided the victory, while teammates Montana Killoran, Emma McCarthy, Emily Anderson, Lauren Welch, and Jacie Hall also contributed to the championship run

“We came and we just played. We knew we were going to give our hardest in the game and we did,” McFarland said.

“I don’t think I could be any happier with them,” said Barone about her players. “Great job, great season – what a way to end it.”

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