TAUNTON, Mass. – With one swing of the bat, Taunton senior McKenzie McAloon not only etched her name into the historic lore of Tiger softball, but she also cemented the legacy of a veteran trio aptly named “The Big Three.”
Joined by pitcher Kelsey White and shortstop Hanna Aldrich, McAloon helped Taunton’s “Big Three” put an exclamation point on their storied careers in a Tiger uniform with their second state title, the program’s sixth overall.
And fittingly, that trio proved to be the catalysts in the biggest game of the year.
White, who is committed to play at Villanova, capped one of the best individual seasons in state history by firing a complete game shutout with 13 strikeouts, allowing just two hits in the process.
Aldrich, a Lehigh University-commit, set a new program record this spring, launching 15 home runs, five more than the previous record. Her two-out double was Taunton’s first extra-base hit of the game.
But the most important hit of the season, one that will define this state championship win, came off the bat of McAloon, who is headed to Bryant University to play softball. On the first pitch of her third at-bat, McAloon laced a ground ball up the middle and Aldrich came scampering home from second to score the lone run of the game.
“She sometimes can get lost in the mix among the three of them but what she does behind that plate is so underrated, and what she gives to this team as far as leadership and taking the younger kids under her wing, she’s always so positive,” said first-year Taunton coach Carrie Consalvi. “She’s the whole package, she’s that kid you’re going to see really blossom in college, I really feel that.
In her first two at-bats of the game, which took place back on Wednesday, she popped up to the catcher and to short.
The lengthy break gave McAloon and the Tigers some time to adjust to the pitching of Wachusett ace Riley Quirk, who had allowed just three base hits through the first five innings.
“She definitely threw faster than most girls we’ve seen this year and then she has that rise ball,” McAloon said. “Over our little break that we had, we were hitting off the pitching machine, I was going to the field with my dad working on not swinging on something above my eyes and just really looking down and seeing something under my hands.”
It didn’t take long for McAloon to get a pitch she liked, connecting on the first pitch from Quirk to give the Tigers the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs.
“She comes with a lot of first pitch strikes and I’m a first pitch strike hitter, I like to go after that and attack it, it’s usually the best pitch I’m going to get especially as the four batter,” McAloon said. “I knew once it was coming over the plate that I was going to go for it. If it was a strike, I was going to swing.
“I went up to the plate with confidence. Hanna got into scoring position for us so it was perfect timing, I knew I just had to put the ball in play for my team.”
White came back out and retired the side in order for the fourth time, getting her 13th strikeout of the game to clinch the championship. On the other end of the strikeout was McAloon, who caught 116 innings this season after playing second base during her first three seasons with the Tigers.
McAloon, White, and Aldrich were all in the starting lineup when Taunton knocked off Wachusett for the 2018 State Championship as well.
“I was so hyped up for her,” White said of McAloon, who drove in her 25th run of the season for the game-winning run. “She just deserves every single second of this. It’s great that we’re ending our last season on a great note. We really wanted this, this was our goal to leave high school with the title.”
McAloon finished the season hitting 0.443 with 27 hits, launching six home runs of her own. She also only allowed just two passed balls in the 116 innings that she caught with only two players able to steal a base.
Aldrich kept the inning alive with her double, the Tigers had two quick outs on a pop fly to the first baseman in foul territory and a strikeout. The shortstop fell behind in the count but patiently worked her way back to a full count before lacing a double into the gap in right-center.
“Kenz is so deserving of that,” Aldrich said of McAloon. “She’s probably one of the people that works the hardest on the team and she totally deserved that today.”
Aldrich closes the season with 40 hits for a whopping 0.625 batting average, and of course, the program’s new home run record (15). White went over 200 strikeouts for the season during the game with under 100 innings pitched, adding 11 home runs (which also broke the old program record) and 28 RBI.
“This is awesome,” McAloon said. “We lost our season last year, but coming out here and winning, this is what we’ve wanted all season long. We’ve worked hard for this. Every practice, every pitch, we’ve all worked for this. It’s just a dream to finish with a state championship.”
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