Masuk softball team’s ready to defend its SWC title

Natalie Lieto runs the bases. Lieto and the Panthers host New Milford in the SWC tourney quarterfinals Sunday, May 21, at 12 p.m.

The defending South-West Conference champion Masuk High softball team begins its title defense, while embarking on its quest for a sixth straight crown, when it visits New Milford in quarterfinal round action at noon this Sunday.

Masuk edged New Milford (2-9) in nine innings during the regular season. The Panthers are battle tested heading into the playoffs, coming off an 8-5 win over host Pomperaug on May 10, a 4-2 win over visiting Norwich Free Academy on May 13, an 8-2 loss to visiting Newtown on Wednesday and an 11-2 setback at Southington on Thursday.

Julia Bacoulis delivers a pitch during action this spring.

Against Southington, Julia Bacoulis went 1-for-3 with a solo home run. Madison Aguirre and Alyssa Castillo both had a single for the Panthers.

The Newtown game, a possible preview for the championship round if both teams can take care of business in the first two rounds, began with Newtown taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Masuk escaped further trouble when a baserunner was caught stealing.

Masuk jumped in front with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the first.

Natalie Lieto was hit by a pitch leading off, Bacoulis doubled, and Ella Bunovsky drove in the tying run on a ground out. Izzy Viglione walked and got caught in a rundown allowing Bacoulis to score the go ahead run.

But Masuk’s bats were quieted the rest of the way. Lieto doubled but Newtown’s pitcher Sydney Adolfson settled down and held the typically potent Panther lineup in check for the rest of the afternoon.

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