WEST HAVEN - When Tyler Catlin took the job as head coach for Bristol Eastern softball, he went out and watched the team throw for the first time. He said in that moment he knew that his team could succeed. He told them that are bare minimum they were a quarterfinals team.
The Lancers took Catlin’s expectations one step further.
The No. 21 Lancers fell to No. 1 Masuk, 3-0 in the semifinals of the Class L state tournament Monday afternoon.
Catlin said while the result is not what they wanted no one expected them to be in the semifinals.
“Coming in as the No. 21 seed not many people expected us to get to the semifinal round,“ Catlin said. “This is the best team in the state. Masuk is a great team and has the best pitcher in the state, but our pitcher, Alison Tellier, was right up there with her today.”
Tellier said the team came together at the perfect time heading into the postseason and accomplished getting to the semifinals, a feat that Bristol Eastern last reached in 2010.
“I’m really proud of us,” Tellier said. “We started off this season not really working together as much as we probably would have liked to, but this postseason we came together more as a team, getting timely hits and runs. It has definitely been a experience.”
Heading into the bottom of the fifth inning the game was scoreless.
Masuk’s Ava Moretti was on first and Natalie Leto was at bat. Prior to this moment, the contest was evenly matched. Neither team gave up many hits and both pitchers were consistently pitching strikeouts.
However, one hit changed the game.
Leto hit a home run to centerfield and Masuk quickly took 2-0 lead. A third run in the sixth by Isabelle Vigilione gave the Panthers a 3-0 victory.
Catlin said the game came down to one real hit and while the Lancers did lose, they kept up with the top seeded team. He said heading into the matchup they believed they could battle and hold their own.
“There was no panic with the team we were facing even with them being a very good team,” Catlin said. “We thought we could beat them. We thought we could beat anyone today. Tellier gave us a chance to take down the best team in the state. She left it all out on that field today and she battled.”
He said with wins over No. 12 Brookfield, No. 5 Jonathan Law and No. 4 East Haven, they felt like everything was going their way and if they continued to play good defense and get a couple timely hits they could even pull off beating the No. 1 seed.
“We knew the challenge we had ahead of us, but we weren’t afraid or nervous,” he said. “They took it one game at a time and started gaining more and more confidence with each game. They started to appreciate coming to the ballpark. The seniors were really embracing these final moments and they were bringing the underclassman along with them.”