STRATFORD — The Masuk softball team set the tone early in its South-West Conference final against Notre Dame-Fairfield with a dominating performance at the plate and on the mound.

Along the way they didn’t let a little controversy get in the way of a win.

Sam Schiebe, named the game’s MVP, struck out 14 and had a hit and three RBIs to lead No. 1 Masuk to an 11-3 win over No. 2 Notre Dame-Fairfield for the Panthers’ third straight SWC title at DeLuca Field on Friday. Maddie Procyk added a two-run double and two-run single and Katie Welch had a three-run double for the Panthers (22-1).

“We’re all very excited to get this win against a very good Notre Dame hitting team,” Masuk coach Leigh Barone said. “When we went ahead 5-0 after three innings, we knew we had to keep hitting because Notre Dame was eventually going to start putting the ball in play.

“We knew we had to keep playing hard for seven innings. This was a typical game for Sam, she knows how important it is to help out on offense as well as on the mound. Maddie Procyk and Katie Welch had good hits for us too. It was an excellent game for everyone on the team.”

For the Panthers it’s their ninth SWC title overall.

The combination of timely hitting and a strong performance by Schiebe in the first three innings produced a big, early lead for the Panthers.

Schiebe struck out six of the first seven batters. A two-run single and two-run double by Procyk and an RBI single by Emily Lange gave the Panthers a 5-0 lead after three innings.

In the top of the fourth inning the fans were treated to a little controversy.

With the bases loaded and one out, Notre Dame’s Meredith McDonald belted a ball to deep center field. As the ball went over the fence, Masuk centerfielder Meg MacFarland reached over the fence and it looked as if she caught the ball but instead dropped it.

The third base umpire signaled out. But after a conference the umpires ruled the three runs scored with one out. The runners tagged after the ball went into MacFarland’s glove and allowed them to score. But McDonald was called out for passing the first base runner as they rounded the bases.

“There was a lot of confusion on that play, but it really had no bearing on the game,” Notre Dame coach Jeff Bevino said. “We got beat by an exceptional, well-coached team. Sam was lights out on the mound and they beat us with some clutch hitting.”

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Welch had her three-run double and Schiebe drew a walk with the bases loaded to give the Panthers a 9-3 lead.

Schiebe continued to dominate at the mound and struck out the last Notre Dame batter in the seventh inning to seal the win.

“I couldn’t be more excited for my team,” Schiebe said. “I had a lot of strikeouts but I really had a lot of help from my teammates behind me on defense. We had some timely hitting and we got in a pretty good rhythm early in the game. The key for me pitching today is I tried my best to keep them off-balance by being unpredictable with my pitches.”

MASUK 11,

NOTRE DAME-FAIRFIELD 3

(at Stratford)

ND-FAIRFIELD 000 300 0—3 1 0

MASUK230 420 x—11 16 0

Bri Brown and Meredith McDonald; Sam Schiebe and Montana Killoran. WP-Schiebe; LP-Brown. Records: ND-Fairfield 19-4; Masuk 22-1.