STRATFORD — The Masuk softball program has had a long history of pitchers coming up big in big games.
Maddie Procyk is just the latest.
The sophomore right-hander fired a complete game three-hitter on Thursday as the 22-0 Panthers defeated Notre Dame-Fairfield by a 6-1 score in the SWC semifinals at DeLuca Field.
The win puts Masuk into Thursday’s league championship game against Newtown, a 4-3 winner over Joel Barlow in eight innings. First pitch back at DeLuca, is 7:30 p.m. Masuk is the defending champion.
Procyk struck out 10 and walked two in a strong performance over the Lancers.
“She’s threw a great game today. I’m really proud of her,” Masuk coach Leigh Barone. “She’s only a sophomore and she stepped it up today.”
The corner-painting Procyk struck out two in the first and seventh innings and struck out the side in the second inning as she refused to let the Lancers get a rally going.
She gave up a bunt single in the second, an RBI single in the fifth and a single in the sixth.
“We all grew up knowing it,” Procyk said of Masuk’s pitching history. “(Former Masuk pitcher) Rachel Fico inspired me and I remember coming here to see her play for the Brakettes, and Tatum Buckley has helped me a few times in the summer when I couldn’t get to my pitching coach.”
Notre Dame-Fairfield pushed Masuk to the limit in the their regular season meeting when the Panthers pulled out a 6-5 win in the seventh inning.
Coach Jeff Bevino said Procyk just didn’t allow his team to get going the second time around.
“She was very, very good,” Bovino said. “She was on. She threw hard, hit her spots. She jams you, she’s in, she’s out. She made some great pitches. She was just better than us today. They were better than us. My hats off to her and to them.”
The Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the first when Gretchen Bunovsky and Alexa Bacoulis hit back-to-back two-out doubles.
In the third, they pushed to a 3-0 edge after the inning started with a Lancers error.
Bunovsky tripled home Erica Pullen to score one run before Bacoulis’ RBI single made it a three-run game.
“We definitely wanted to come out stronger this time and we definitely did,” Bunovsky said. “We know if we can get on them early, we’ll be ready and pumped for the rest of the game.”
Notre-Dame Fairfield scored a run in the fifth when Jill Howe led off with a walk. She stole second and scored when Marissa Lagoja singled.
In the home half of the fifth, Bunovsky doubled to start things.
She scored on Procyk’s RBI ground ball.
An Notre Dame-Fairfield error with the bases loaded allowed two more runs to score in the sixth.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Masuk’s Procyk and Bunovsky.
As good as Procyk was in the circle, Bunovsky was her offensive equal going 3-for-4 with two doubles, triple, and three runs scored.
“Hitting is my favorite part of the game, by far,” Bunovsky said. “I just try to stay relaxed and give my best swing at the ball.”
MASUK 4, ND-FAIRIFELD 1
ND-FAIRFIELD 000 010 X—1 3 2
MASUK 102 010 X—4 9 1
Records: ND-Fairfield 15-7, Masuk 22-0; Batteries: NDF—Tiff Diao, Breana Brown (4) and Michaela Luk; M-Maddie Procyk and Erica Pullen.