TAUNTON, Mass. – Over its last two tournament games, the formula for King Philip softball has been simple: jump out to an early lead then hand it over to pitcher Kali Magane to shut down the opposition.
That formula worked against division rival Taunton on Monday, and it was successful again on Friday night as the Warriors topped Hopkinton 4-0 to advance to the Division 1 South final.
“I think they’re pumped, they’re focused, and they want it,” King Philip coach Norm Beauchemin said. “They’ve been working their tails off, and when we get the lead, Kali knows what to do with it.”
Against Taunton, it was Ashley Hession who powered KP to a 3-0 win with a three-run blast in the second inning that accounted for the only runs of the game. In the second inning of Friday’s game, the Warriors played small ball to race into the lead.
Jenn Hutnyan led off the inning with an infield single on a liner that was knocked down by Hopkinton pitcher Brianna Maribile but the throw was not in time. Magane followed with a hard hit line drive to left center, and after a Hession walk, Meghan Gorman drove in the first run on a shot that spilled out of the glove of the lunging center fielder Lillian Morningstar.
Christa Wagner then grounded one to the second baseman Emily Whelan, who tagged the oncoming Gorman for an out while Magane scored from third. Hailey McCasland plated the third run with an RBI groundout that scored Hession. In the seventh inning, Elise Pereira added an insurance run with a sacrifice fly
“That’s the game of softball,” Beauchemin said. “I think whoever scores three or four runs in one inning, nine out of ten times they’re going to win. I don’t think we have a pitcher that someone can come back on, and I think our defense is solid enough where we’re not going to allow a team to get too many runs in an inning.”
Magane did not allow a baserunner until Morningstar led off the fourth inning with a single. Kaitlyn Holly then attempted a bunt to move the runner over, but the third baseman Hutnyan made a diving grab for the first out. Magane then induced a strikeout and pop out to end the inning.
In the fifth inning, the Hillers again threatened but could not score. After two KP errors placed two Hopkinton runners in scoring position, Magane escaped the jam with another strikeout-pop out combination. Hopkinton had one final chance in the seventh inning, compiling back-to-back singles before Magane ended the game on her ninth strikeout of the night.
“Kali can be the equalizer,” Beauchemin said. “She has great location and she throws hard. She can keep batters off balance by moving the ball around.”
Magane has racked up nine strikeouts in each of her last two tournament starts, and her offense has supplied just enough production to secure the wins. Despite the stagnant offense, Beauchemin believes his team’s formula can still be successful going forward.
“[Magane] is as strong as a bull,” Beauchemin said. “We didn’t pitch her every game during the season. We tried to keep her strong for this time of the year, and hopefully it worked. Right now it seems to be working.”
It will be a quick turnaround for Magane and the Warriors, as they will face top-seeded Silver Lake on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Taunton High School in the D1 South Final, but Beauchemin is confident that his team will be ready.
“King Philip has a tradition, we don’t want to go down without a fight,” Beauchemin said. “The tradition is there, you have to honor it and you have to respect it. These girls do, they understand it.”