The Warriors have boasted solid pitching and a punishing offense all season long, but for the second straight game, the defense stole the show. Aided by terrific effort plays and pinpoint accurate throws in almost every inning, King Philip scored a 7-5 win over visiting Attleboro.
Charlotte Raymond cut a runner down at second base in the early stages to set the tone, senior Anna Bradley made a pair of momentum-swinging plays at first, and Paige Berdos’ alert double play in the final inning helped put an end to Attleboro’s comeback attempt.
“They made the plays they had to, that’s what you have to do against good teams. [King Philip] can really play in all aspects and we were right there with them,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Homer. “We’re disappointed with the loss but there are positives, we were competitive tonight, we were one swing away, we were only one swing away in the first game too.”
Both defenses played mistake-free ball, the second straight contest that saw both sides make big plays on offense and defense with no errors recorded. King Philip held a 1-0 lead, a 5-2 advantage, and a 7-5 edge; the final lead the only one to hold.
Attleboro took its first lead of the game with a pair of runs in the third inning, and just a half-inning after letting that lead slip away, the Bombardiers battled back with three runs to tie the game.
“That was a battle,” said King Philip head coach Kate Fallon-Comeau. “It was an all-around great game again, back and forth between two good games. Our defense has been really solid, and it’s been great these last two games. The assists we’ve gotten from the outfield in both games have changed the game.”
Offense was hard to come by in the first contest between the two teams, a 2-1 win for the Warriors. King Philip wasted little time to get things going on Wednesday night though, pushing across a run in the opening inning.
Berdos led off with a single and sophomore Ava Lanza (3-for-4) followed with a base hit of her own, but Attleboro catcher Lora Woyton caught the runner stealing at third. Two batters later, Raymond smacked a double off the fence in right-center field to plate Lanza and Sarah Cullen (HBP).
Woyton laced a shot to right field to lead off the second inning but Raymond was able to chase down the ball and fire to second where junior shortstop fMia Bennett applied the tag for the out.
Attleboro’s defense continued to make plays as well, as pitcher Lindsey Perry made a spectacular effort to snag a bunt for an out, quickly firing to first to double up the runner in the bottom of the second.
The Bombardiers carried that momentum into the top of the third where Meghan Gordon drove a solo shot over the center field fence to tie the game. Gabby Bosh drew a one-out walk and advanced to second during the next at-bat. Lindsey Perry smacked a hard-hit ground ball up the middle to bring in a run to put the visitors ahead 2-1 in the top of the third.
It looked like Attleboro would put a runner on with two outs in the top of the fourth but an incredible stretch at first by Bradley took away the infield hit. King Philip picked up a lot of momentum from the play and that translated to the offensive side of the ball.
Cullen was hit by a pitch again and two pitches later, Raymond drilled a home run over the fence and the Warriors were back ahead. On the next pitch, Meg Sherwood connected for a solo home run and KP’s lead grew to 4-2.
Freshman Maddie Paschke had a one-out single, freshman Jordan Bennett connected for a two-out single and took second on the throw, and Berdos drew a walk to load the bases. Lanza singled through the left side to bring in one run for a 5-2 advantage through four innings.
“I think those big plays on defense kind of carried us,” Fallon-Comeau said. “We got a lot of momentum from those plays, it just fired everybody up and we had the right bats coming to the plate at the right time. And we used that momentum to get some runs.”
Attleboro put two on to start the sixth with freshman Kayla Goldrick drawing a leadoff walk and Gordon followed with a single. Both runners advanced on a ground out to the pitcher, and Jordan Bennett (7IP, 7H, 2BB, 5ER, 5K) induced an infield pop up to get the second out.
Hailey Perry came through in the clutch, driving a 1-0 pitch over the left field fence for a three-run home run as Attleboro quickly erased the deficit to knot the score at 5-5.
In the bottom of the sixth, junior DP Lauren Hooper got things started with a one-out single. Berdos worked a long at-bat into a single into right field, but KP’s courtesy runner was thrown out at third on the relay. Lanza came through with another clutch two-out hit, this time bringing in Berdos, who had advanced to second on the throw, to take a 6-5 lead.
“She’s really stepped up in a big way for us,” Fallon-Comeau said of Lanza, who was recently inserted into the lineup. “We had an injury, losing our starting shortstop (Libby Walsh). I had intentions of getting her bat in the lineup at some point but it just came at the right time. And she’s proven her bat belongs in the lineup and when you can do that, you’re going to keep playing.”
Cullen reached for the third time, this time on a walk, and Raymond drew a walk as well to load the bases with two outs. Sherwood’s patience at the plate resulted in a third walk and the Warriors brought in an insurance run.
King Philip had one more big defensive play left to make. Attleboro put the leadoff runner on a bloop single to right and the next batter made a lot of contact but the ball was driven hard right to Berdos in center field and without hesitation, the junior fired to first and Bradley was in position to double up the runner. Bennett induced a grounder to the circle for the final out.
While Attleboro softball came away from the series with a pair of losses, there were plenty of positives for the Bombardiers.
“Now we have to make it so we’re not staying with them, that teams are trying to stay with us. And it’s coming. We’re at the level where we go into these games against top teams knowing that we have a chance We feel like we’re peaking at the right time too. We’re not just doing it with one or two girls either, it’s a group effort. We’ve got a great mix of veterans and younger players. It’s a great team, they get along. And they have short memories, we’re already talking about Franklin for the next game.”
Attleboro softball (7-5) will travel to Franklin on Monday for the first of two games against the Panthers. Meanwhile, King Philip (12-0) sets up a Kelley-Rex division title showdown with Taunton, who is also undefeated. The winner of the first game will clinch at least a share of the crown. The Tigers host KP in the first game on Monday at 6:30.
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