Behind a stellar performance from senior pitcher Kali Magane, 10 strikeouts and just three hits allowed, the Warriors beat Norwood 5-0 on Saturday afternoon at the Plainville Athletic League complex. It is the third time in four years that KP has ended the Mustangs’ season.
Magane was dominant in the circle on Saturday. She allowed a lead-off single off the centerfield fence to Taylor Reed in the second inning, but that was the lone hard hit ball. She struck out two in an inning four times and overpowered the Norwood hitters.
“There’s nobody better than her,” said KP coach Norm Beauchemin. “There weren’t too many balls hit hard.
“I’m glad that she went seven because it’s good for her endurance…she had to stay mentally tough for seven innings.”
The Mustangs did put together a rally in the fourth inning but a controversial call when Brianna Lacy caught the Norwood runner trying to steal third effectively ended the threat.
Norwood coach Carol Savino said, “That was a tough call over here because she was safe…That tag came after the base came out. That was a big call because that killed the rally.”
Magane allowed a runner to reach on a throwing error in the fifth but followed it with back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning. In the sixth, she allowed a one-out single but retired the final two hitters and then closed the game out in style by striking out a pair in the seventh to reach double digits for the game.
When asked what was working so well for her, Magane responded, “Just moving pitches around, keeping them off-balance. They’re a good hitting team, they’re coached well, so basically you have to try and keep them off-balance and limit the hits.”
Savino said, “Magane’s tough; Magane’s a good pitcher. If I had a pitcher like Magane on the mound for me and my defense, it would be different.”
The KP offense came through with a big second inning to give its pitcher a little cushion. Caeli Bench doubled down the left field line and Jenn Hutnyan (3-for-3) dropped a bloop into shallow left. With one out, Ashley Hession singled to right to plate the first run of the game.
Meghan Gorman lined to the second baseman for the second out but the Norwood player tried to turn it into a double play and the throw got away to allow a second run to score. Christa Wagner (2-for-3) drove in the third run with a bunt single.
Magane said, “It’s what you need is runs to win and it makes me more confident going into the circle.”
Beauchemin added, “When we didn’t score in the first, it was a little shocker for us. When we got the three runs, the thinking process changes drastically. You’re not trying to over-think the game anymore.”
KP tacked on a run in the fourth inning when Hutnyan lined a solo homer over the fence in center. The Warriors had a golden opportunity to add another in the fifth after Wagner tripled to lead-off the inning, but she was thrown out at the plate on a grounder to second.
In the sixth, the Warriors did add an insurance run. Sydney Phillips (who entered the game as a defensive replacement in the top half of the inning), Bench, and Hutnyan singled to start the inning and Magane brought in a run with a sacrifice fly to right.
With the win, KP advances to the Div. 1 South quarterfinal and a possible matchup with division rival Taunton (the Tigers played Somerset-Berkeley on Saturday night). Magane admitted the team was looking forward to another chance to face the Kelley-Rex champions, who won both regular season meetings with the Warriors.
She said with a smile, “We’re excited. We’re excited. We’ll try again.”
King Philip (19-4) will play next on Monday against the winner of Taunton/Somerset-Berkeley.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.