TAUNTON, Mass. – Senior Shannon Smith took care of business in both halves of the first inning and her teammates chipped in at the plate in the third and fourth innings as Milford rolled to a 6-0 win over Franklin in the D1 South Sectional Semifinals.
Smith struck out the side in the top half of the first on just 12 pitches and with two-outs in the bottom half of the first, Smith lined a home run over the left field fence for the first run of the game.
After scoring a lone run in their nine-inning nail biter with King Philip, a hot start was key.
“We talked about wanting to win that first inning just to really set the tone for the game,” said Milford head coach Brian Macchi. “Just to get it in the first inning – albeit a homerun – it makes it that much more dramatic.”
The Scarlet Hawks tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the third after Smith singled in first baseman Sam Bonvino from second. In the next at-bat, third baseman Caroline Fairbanks doubled in courtesy runner Sarah Jaques from first. Fairbanks scored on the next at-at from a double from Rachel Levine – about 30 minutes after Fairbanks swing due to an issue with the rubber in the pitcher’s circle.
The offense was a welcome sight for Milford as the previous meeting between the two teams was a one-run game with the only tally coming on a passed ball.
“I think at that point of the season we were in a little bit of a lull, struggling a little bit at the plate as a team,” said Macchi of the first meeting. “The practice we had yesterday we really focused on staying aggressive, having good at-bats, realizing they’re going to make outs and you just got to bounce back and be ready next time.”
Milford picked up two more runs in the bottom of the fourth, as freshman shortstop – who walked – and Lizzie Stallone – who reached on an error – came around to score.
Smith picked up the win, tossing a complete game with 11 strikeouts and gave up just two infield singles. She was 2-3 at the plate with a homerun, two RBIs and a run scored.
“Shannon was the story on the mound and the story at the plate getting it done for us,” said Macchi. “She’s a huge piece to our success and once again came up big for us.”
After making the switch from the Central, the Scarlet Hawks have knocked off two Hockomock foes, and Milford will now play either top-seeded Bridgewater-Raynham or fourth-seeded Silver Lake in the D1 South Sectional Finals.
“I told the girls all season long it was going to be a one tough challenge coming into this South bracket,” said Macchi. “We feel fortunate to be where we are and it’s been hard-earned we’re looking to a big challenge on Sunday.”
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