No. 5 Masuk softball edges No. 3 St. Joseph in Class L final rematch

TRUMBULL — When the schedules for two of the top softball teams in the state were released, Thursday was highlighted on the calendar.

With one team having the fondest of memories from their last meeting, the other is reminded of how close it came.

As No. 5 Masuk and No. 3 St. Joseph lined up for the national anthem, both teams fully comprehended the moment.

The rematch of the 2021 Class L championship played as if the game were being resumed, with Kat Gallant and Lauren Wasikowski going pitch for pitch once again.

Thanks to the offensive performance of Masuk right fielder Emma West-Testo and a strong outing on the mound by Gallant, Masuk once more emerged victorious.

“Every time we come into these games we know it is going to be a good one regardless,” Masuk coach Leigh Barone said. “We know it won’t be easy to score, but we have to score and keep going.”

Since 2018, the two softball programs have met four times and have totaled just 10 runs between them in a 2-1 Masuk win (2018), a 2-0 St. Joseph win (2019), a 2-0 Class L championship win last year and Thursday’s 2-1 Masuk victory.

Gallant earned the win, allowing one run on two hits and two walks while striking out 15 batters.

“I thought it was a great battle,” Gallant said. “They are an amazing team and there is a lot to worry about with their lineup. I am proud of our team because we came out on top and put up runs against really good pitching.”

The first run crossed the plate in the top of the fourth inning, when West-Testo laced an opposite field triple for a 1-0 Masuk lead.

“It feels great, at the beginning of the season I wasn’t really producing offensively,” West-Testo said. “It felt great to help my teammates and I feel like that got the offense going.”

St. Joseph responded in the bottom half of the fifth on an RBI single by CoCo Bartone to tie the game at one, avoiding being shut out like last year’s state final.

“They fought, it is one thing to hang your tent up and say goodbye,” St. Joseph coach Jeff Babineau said. “We came back and battled and had many opportunities to put a couple more runs across, we just didn’t get it through.”

In the next half inning, West-Testo came up with a chance to play the hero with a runner on third and coach Barone played a hunch.

“Of course she had come in clutch for us before already,” Leigh Barone said of West-Testo. “I knew I had speed on third base, and Emma said she knew she could get it down. She knew exactly what she needed to do, and she came in clutch in big situations today. She can do anything.”

The risk played off and the suicide squeeze was executed perfectly as West-Testo knocked in her second run of the day.

“I am used to bunting, but with a runner on third is more pressure,” West-Testo said. “I am someone who thinks a lot at the plate, but I just knew I had to get it down.”

The one-run lead was enough for Gallant, who set down the next six batters in a row, striking out five of them.

“This one was a really big one, if we did not win this game I am not sure where we would be right now,” West-Testo said. “This really helped and we are going to keep winning.”

Masuk has now won seven straight games after losing opening day to No. 1 Ludlowe 2-0.

“I think everybody took the loss to heart and started working that much harder after,” Gallant said. “We are excited to be on the field every day, and our attitude is much hungrier and more driven now.”

St. Joseph falls to 5-3 on the season, but Thursday’s loss is the first against in state competition.

“This is game No. 8 on our schedule, and yes it is a big game but I learned a lot today from our team,” Babineau said. “I saw a lot of good things, we had a couple blunders here and there but I think overall it is early enough to correct things and be stronger in the end.”

Lauren Wasikowski took the loss on the mound, but still delivered a strong performance going 52/3 innings allowing six hits and three walks while striking out 13.

“It is a challenge, I like that stuff,” Gallant said. “I have known Lauren (Waskikowski) since we were eight or nine years old, so it is fun to pitch against her.”

Will.Aldam@hearstmediact.com; @AldamWill

MASUK 2, ST. JOSEPH 1

MASUK 000 101 0 — 2 7 1

ST. JOSEPH 000 010 0— 1 2 1

Records: Masuk 7-1; St. Joseph 5-1

Batteries: M—Kat Gallant (W) and Izzy Viglione; S—Lauren Wasikowsi (L), Brooke Buzzeo (6) and Kelsey Flanagan.