Walk-off homer by Moretti sends Masuk softballers to thrilling championship

Ava Moretti approaches home plate as jubilant teammates await following her championship game walk off homer.

STRATFORD, CT — It was an emotional and thrilling comeback in more ways than one. Ava Moretti smashed a walk-off, two-run home run over the left field fence to send the Masuk High softball team to a dramatic 6-4 win over Newtown in nine innings of Wednesday’s South-West Conference Championship game at DeLuca Field.

Battling back, overcoming adversity, and prevailing are what the Panthers did in this game and so it was fitting that Moretti, a junior, came through with the decisive hit.

Last spring the Masuk player’s father passed away and she was sidelined following surgery on her knee stemming from a basketball injury and had to sit out the softball campaign.

“Everything was kind of one thing right after the other,” Moretti recalled.

Not having her favorite outlet, playing softball, as an option to escape was tough for Moretti. She was not sure what it would be like when she did return to the field, or if she would enjoy it for that matter.

“He’s the person who got me into softball, got me into every sport,” Moretti said.

It turned out very well for Moretti, who said she is having fun playing and on Wednesday became the hero.

Masuk Coach Leigh Barone noted that her own mother passed away a handful of years ago and it is tough to lose a parent, even more so for someone so young, still in high school.

It’s really emotional for me,” she said of watching Moretti lift the team to victory after all she has been through in the last calendar year.

The long ball was only the second of her career, the other coming at the same field, during a playoff game her freshman year. Fair to say Moretti has a flair for the dramatic.

After Aubrey Zvovushe-Ramos reached on a two-base error and stole third leading off the frame, Moretti, the No. 9 hitter in the lineup, was not trying to clear the fence.

“I was looking mainly to get on base to keep things going. As soon as it left the bat I felt it,” she said. “I’m by no means a home run hitter. I’m barely 5-foot-2 on a good day.”

This certainly was a good day for Moretti and company.

It started out poorly for Masuk. Newtown struck for a 3-0 lead on Addy Cordova’s first-inning homer and added to it on a Julia Berry homer in the second.

In between those homers Masuk tried to rally but saw a trio of first-inning singles yield nothing as Newtown threw out a Masuk base runner at home plate. The Panthers trailed 4-0 all the way into the bottom of the fifth inning.

Julia Bacoulis rounds the bases in excitement after tying the score with a grand slam in the fifth.

A walk and two hit batters loaded the bases before pitcher Julia Bacoulis stepped to the plate with a chance to help her own cause. She crushed the first pitch she saw over the center field fence to knot the score.

“I just wanted to hit something hard. I just wanted to score runs,” Bacoulis said. “It did feel really good.”

And it got Masuk back into the game.

Bacoulis struck out 15 batters and worked around some trouble in the late innings. Among her strikeouts was career K number 500 — quite a milestone achievement.

Even trailing 4-0 and with the team running out of outs. Barone said the Panthers, unbeaten this spring, were never worried.

“We believe in our offense, we believe in our defense and we believe in our pitching,” she said.

Some might say the team should believe in miracles after this one. Then again, Moretti said she always feels like her dad and his passion for the game are with her.

Julia Bacoulis is greeted at home plate after her grand slam tied the score.
Pitcher Julia Bacoulis has 500 strikeouts in her career.
The Panthers celebrated not only the title but pitcher Julia Bacoulis picking up her 500th career strikeout.
Masuk High celebrated winning the SWC Championship on Wednesday night.

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1 Comment

  1. congratulations from great uncle rick and aunt sue from iowa city, iowa. ava, the caitlin clark of softball. so proud you are brother’s granddaughter.

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