Below are the official 2020 Hockomock League Girls Swimming All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League MVP
Morgan Foltz, Oliver Ames
Hockomock League All Stars
Jacqueline Lynch-Bartek, Attleboro
Ella Lynch-Bartek, Attleboro
Shauna Harney, Canton
Jessica Hart, Canton
Abby Gallagher, Foxboro
Megan Lathrop, Foxboro
Elizabeth Tang, Franklin
Alyssa LaPluma, Franklin
Katherine Chew, Franklin
Kathryn McGuire, Franklin
Megan Campbell, King Philip
Morgan Sachleben, King Philip
Jessica Sullivan, King Philip
Catherine DiGiacomo, King Philip
Morgan Poppengarner, King Philip
Kyra Cavicchi, Mansfield
Eva Parsons, Milford
Morgan Foltz, Oliver Ames
Morgan O’Hara, Oliver Ames
Jennifer Buche, Oliver Ames
Samantha Streton, Oliver Ames
Ava Kelley, Oliver Ames
Emily Kelley, Oliver Ames
Sophie Hirtle, Oliver Ames
Cassandra Cronin, Oliver Ames
Kimora Peters, Oliver Ames
Muskan Kumar, Sharon
Cleo Zhou, Sharon
Cheryl Sung, Sharon
Shruthi Kaveti, Sharon
Angelina Lynch, Taunton
Tiffany Ye, Taunton
Marisa Gay, Taunton
Faith Morrison, Attleboro
Brianna Gilchrist, Canton
Gina Ouellette, Foxboro
Maia Wainwright, Franklin
Brianna McMasters, King Philip
Mairead Shannon, Mansfield
Paige Reisman, Milford
Sophia Roukhadze, N Attleboro
Emma O’Hara, Oliver Ames
Kaylin Desmond, Stoughton
Macey Jorge, Taunton
1. Oliver Ames – 404
2. Franklin – 293
3. King Philip – 257
4. Canton – 235
5. Sharon – 189
6. Taunton – 163
7. Milford – 146
8. Attleboro – 125
9. Foxboro – 106
10. Mansfield – 87
11. North Attleboro – 53
12. Stoughton – 42
200 Yard Medley Relay
1. Oliver Ames (Morgan Foltz, Jennifer Buche, Morgan O’Hara, Samantha Streton) – 1:53.09
2. Sharon (Cleo Zhou, Shruthi Kaveti, Cheryl Sung, Muskan Kumar) – 2:00.95
3. King Philip (Olivia Bailey, Morgan Sachleben, Jessica Sullivan, Catherine DiGiacomo) – 2:03.06
4. Franklin (Isabel Capecci, Charlene Peng, Abigail Kaplan, Katie Houlihan) – 2:06.44
5. Milford (Elena BonTempo, Victoria Monica, Eva Parsons, Michaela Blackwell) – 2:06.99
6. Canton (Tema Mazonson, Jessica Hart, Matigan O’Brien, Amy Coe) – 2:08.53
200 Yard Free
1. Jennifer Buche, Oliver Ames – 1:59.67
2. Megan Campbell, King Philip – 2:02.80
3. Jackie Lynch-Bartek, Attleboro – 2:03.25
4. Megan Lathrop, Foxboro – 2:09.62
5. Abby Gallagher, Foxboro – 2:10.57
6. Brianna Gilchrist, Canton – 2:12.83
200 Yard IM
1. Shauna Harney, Canton – 2:19.36
2. Morgan Sachleben, King Philip – 2:22.13
3. Sophie Hirtle, Oliver Ames – 2:23.05
4. Eva Parsons, Milford – 2:27.59
5. Marisa Gay, Taunton – 2:27.96
6. Emma O’Hara, Oliver Ames – 2:28.37
50 Yard Free
1. Morgan Foltz, Oliver Ames – 24.91
2. Angelina Lynch, Taunton – 25.90
3. Samantha Streton, Oliver Ames – 26.43
4. Muskan Kumar, Sharon – 26.55
5. Elizabeth Tang, Franklin – 26.56
6. Ava Kelley, Oliver Ames – 26.59
100 Yard Butterfly
1. Jennifer Buche, Oliver Ames – 1:00.29
2. Samantha Streton, Oliver Ames – 1:00.86
3. Elizabeth Tang, Franklin – 1:01.21
4. Megan Lathrop, Foxboro – 1:03.26
5. Eva Parsons, Milford – 1:04.61
6. Shauna Harney, Canton – 1:04.81
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – North Attleboro entered Thursday night’s Div. 1 South opening round match against New Bedford at the Pickering Gym as the higher seed and the favorite, but Halloween turned out to be more trick than treat for Big Red.
The Whalers took control of the match from the start, as sophomore Germinal Tagne proved to be too much to handle for the North defense, and rolled to a comprehensive 3-0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-18) sweep that abruptly ended the season for the Davenport division runner-up.
“We always give credit where credit’s due,” said North coach Kim Hallahan about the Whalers. “I thought they were incredible. They didn’t let any balls hit the floor. They fought for every single point and they’re fantastic. They have a really, really good team.”
Tagne was a force right from the opening point, recording nine kills, a block, and an ace in the first set. North recently won a five-set thriller at Canton and it was the block against Bulldogs star hitter Taylor Harris that drew plaudits from the opponents, but nothing that the Rocketeers did seemed to slow Tagne down, as she scored from both the front and back lines.
It was close for a while at the start, but New Bedford pulled away by winning 7-of-8 points to push the lead to 15-7. Every time that North started to get close, Tagne stepped up. She won back-to-back points to end a run and make it 19-12 and it was her ninth kill of the set that sealed the lead for the visitors.
The lone bright spot for the Rocketeers (13-6) in the opening set was senior hitter Kylie Melanson, who had six kills and seemed to be picking the back corner with every hit.
“Kylie all season has been our No. 1 and I’m glad she pulled through for us tonight and she was dependable,” said Hallahan. “We have so many great hitters, but it just didn’t work for us tonight.”
After being dominated in the first, North needed a response. The hosts came out flying in the second set, winning 10 of the first 12 points to take a commanding lead. Along with Melanson, North also got a kill from Grace Munleyand three straight aces from libero Brooke Street during that stretch.
Setter Hayley Gaskin was starting to spray the ball around and, after Abby Gallagher had a pair of kills to help extend the advantage to 16-7, New Bedford was forced into a timeout. It looked like North had woken up and it was going to be a much more even match.
New Bedford had other ideas. The Whalers rattled off nine straight points to tie the game and put North on its heels. Munley struck to put North back in front at 18-17, but then a Tagne kill and a block by middle hitter Jessica Dias gave New Bedford the lead.
Hallahan explained, “Unfortunately that’s kind of what happens with us. When they get one, we kind of get down on ourselves and they just keep getting more and more and more and we can’t seem to get ourselves out of that funk. I think that’s what happened to us tonight too. We couldn’t snap out of it.”
It was obvious that this was going to be a critical point in the match and North again responded to the challenge with a pair of service points for Street. Tagne got back-to-back points, but then Joanna Collins-Bilyeu earned a point with a well-placed push. The crowd was into it and North had energy, but a Dias kill and then a shot into the net put North in an 0-2 hole.
The Whalers knew the victory was in their grasp and they didn’t let up in the third. After Morgan Correia’s serve hit the top of the net and dropped to the court untouched, New Bedford led 18-9. The Rocketeers wouldn’t quit though, as Melanson got a kill to and then won back-to-back service points.
A long rally ended with a Dias block to make it 22-12, but North then rolled off six straight points to pull back within four. Collins-Bilyeu had a kill and a service point during the run, but it was brought to a halt by another blast by Tagne off the block. New Bedford won the final two points to book its place in the second round.
“We don’t like to use excuses but I think nerves got the best of us,” Hallahan admitted. “I think we were a little nervous coming in, playoffs, it was pretty big. I thought that it would work out in our favor because we had a home game, but I think we were just nervous and we didn’t really play our game.”
CANTON, Mass. – While Canton had already secured at least a share of its 15th league title in 17 seasons, there was still a chance that North Attleboro could split and make it two titles in three years for Big Red, but that would require beating the Bulldogs for a second time this season.
North dropped the first set on Wednesday night, battled to win two close sets in a row, and was forced to a decisive fifth set before securing a 3-2 (18-25, 25-23, 26-24, 18-25, 15-7) victory and a season sweep over its Davenport rival.
“When the energy is up, we thrive,” said North coach Kim Hallahan. “So, it’s nice to play against great competition. They’re a great team and we like that competition, it boosts us and gives us a lot of energy. Luckily, they did it twice.”
The first set was back-and-forth at the start with North building a 16-13 lead behind strong play at the net from its front line, including Kylie Melanson, Joanna Collins-Bilyeu, and Grace Munley. Canton called a timeout to reset and whatever was said in the huddle worked because the Bulldogs rolled off seven straight points and finished the first on a 12-2 run.
After being largely held in check for most of the set, senior hitter Taylor Harris (20 kills) got going for the Bulldogs with three straight kills and then a block for a point. Claire Quinn closed out the set with a kill to put the hosts ahead 1-0 in the match.
“We’ve been fighting through a lot of injuries all year and we’ve been fighting back in matches,” said Canton coach Pat Cawley. “We’ve had a lot of different lineups and we find ourselves down a lot until they kind of get used to each other and come back.”
The momentum carried over to the start of the second, with Canton jumping out to a 4-0 lead, but North came storming back to take the lead. The lead switched hands five times and the score was tied 13 times in the set, as neither team managed to get any separation. Riding the hot hand of Munley (20 kills) and a big ace from setter Hayley Gaskin that gave them set point, North edged out a 25-23 win in the second.
North took charge in the third set, with Munley continuing to be tough to slow down and Melanson and Abby Gallagher adding alternatives on the outside. It seemed like all the bounces were going North’s way as well, with Munley getting a point on a hit that rolled down the top of the net and dropped into an unoccupied space and then following up a remarkable dig by Canton’s Angie Elias by smashing another kill that made it 20-15.
Just when it looked like the Rocketeers might roll into the lead in the match, Canton came storming back, eventually tying the set at 24-24. With the match on the brink, Gallagher had back-to-back kills to close out the third.
“These girls put in all the time, all the practice, they put in 110 percent and that’s all I’ve ever asked for as a coach,” said Hallahan. “When we go into timeouts, whether we’re down or up, I tell them you have this and you have to believe in yourselves the way I believe in you. They definitely did tonight.”
Canton would not go quietly. In addition to Harris on the outside, the Bulldogs also relied on the middle of the net with Liz Bickett and Shannon Malloy playing well on the inside.
“We did get some points in the middle when we got our passing where we needed it to be,” Cawley explained. “I thought Liz had a great match blocking and hitting and she’s a six-position player for us, so she’s played well all the way around.”
North had the chance to seal the win, leading 16-14 in the fourth, but again Canton managed to rally. This time the Bulldogs scored 11 of the final 13 points in the set, including a seven-point series with Nikki Desjardins at the service line. Fittingly, it was Bickett that rose up with a blast to close it out and force a fifth and deciding set.
In the fifth, the Rocketeers stormed out of the gate, winning five of the first six points. Canton got as close as three on two occasions but North had the answer. Munley was immense in the final set, recording seven kills, and Melanson closed out the match with a blast.
“She was unreal,” Hallahan said about Munley. “She has grown tremendously. She has been the most improved out of any kid that I’ve coached before. She had so much fun tonight, so it’s really great to see that.”
Cawley was glad to see her team continue to fight back in the match and get the chance to perform in a playoff-like atmosphere. “It’s tough losing a match like that,” she said, “but I told the kids, this is what we want to do, this is the volleyball we want to play and unfortunately we couldn’t pull it out. We battled, it’s all I can ask for.”
Despite the loss, Canton (15-3, 12-3) will have the chance to win the title outright when it travels to Milford on Friday.
When Cawley was asked about maintaining the consistent level of success over the past 17 years, she replied, “People look at it because we put the Canton shirts on, we’re going to win, but many, many years it’s a puzzle until midseason and we don’t know how we’re going to do. I keep telling the kids that winning a league title is hard, it’s not expected, and you should enjoy it.”
North Attleboro (12-5, 11-4) will be rooting for Milford on Friday but to have a shot at splitting the title will also have to beat Foxboro in the regular season finale.
Sharon, 4 vs. Milton Academy, 7 – Final
Stoughton, 7 @ Norwood, 2 – Final – Stoughton grabbed its second win of the season, pouring in seven goals in a win over Norwood. Junior Mackenzie scored four goals and added two assists to pace the Black Knights’ offense. Freshman Shayla Ford added three goals while senior Hannah Papagno and freshman Isabella Rodrigues each had an assist.
King Philip, 2 @ Attleboro, 1 – Final – King Philip scored a pair of second half goals to erase a halftime deficit and earn a win on the road. KP senior Sammy Robison scored in the 38th minute to bring the score level, and junior Grace Crocker netted the game-winning goal with 17:15 left. Makenzie Manning made five saves in net, including a stop on a penalty stroke. KP’s Ali Beltrimini, Haley Izydorczak, and Charlotte Colella played well defensive for the Warriors.
Franklin, 6 @ Taunton, 0 – Final – After holding a 1-0 lead at halftime, Franklin exploded for five tallies in the second half to grab a big win on the road. Amanda Lewandowski scored a hat trick, with Stephanie Bell and Olivia Mazukina notching assists. Bell also had a pair of goals, including the game-winner at 14:00 of the first half. Kaitlyn Carney also scored for the Panthers while Neilee Hess made three saves for the shutout.
Mansfield, 2 @ Oliver Ames, 1 – Final
Milford, 2 @ North Attleboro, 4 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. Emma Bailey scored a pair of goals to lead North Attleboro to a divisional win. The Rocketeers scored four times in the first half to secure the victory. Lindsay Robinson set up the first with an interception, run down the right side, and cross through the crease to Bailey at the far post. The lead was doubled off a corner; Faith Graveline skimming a shot through traffic that beat the screened goalie. Off another corner, North made it 3-0. The ball was played diagonally across goal to Julia Puccio, who redirected it back across the crease for Robinson to tap in. Milford answered with its first goal of the night, and of the season. Kathryn Swineford danced through the North defense and Tatiana Martinez finished the play off. Bailey added her second before the break, this time after Kelsie Lindstrom spun her marker and teed her up with a perfect pass. Martinez got her second of the game when Olyvia White and Swineford played a nice one-two at the top of the circle and she redirected the shot from close-range. Paige Reisman had a strong game in goal to keep Milford close.
King Philip, 3 @ Attleboro, 0 – Final – King Philip went on the road and earned a 3-0 (25-14, 25-8, 25-6) win over Attleboro. The Warriors had an impressive showing on the service line as Lily Carlow had seven aces, Nicole Coughlan added six aces, and Emma Brooks (five digs) chipped in with four aces. Catherine Waldeck put down 14 kills while Coughlan added seven kills in the win.
Sharon, 1 @ Canton, 3 – Final – After splitting the first two sets, Canton won two straight to secure a 3-1 (25-16, 20-25, 25-14, 25-23) victory over visiting Sharon. Taylor Harris had 24 kills and 16 digs to lead the way while Claire Quinn added seven kills and 17 digs, and Liz Bickett chipped in with six kills and 16 digs. Jackie Morrissey played well for the Bulldogs with 27 assists.
Stoughton, 0 @ Foxboro, 3 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery from this game – Foxboro pulled out tight wins in the first two sets and then cruised to a win in the third for a 3-0 (25-22, 25-21, 25-12) win. Grace Boudreau had a strong game with 14 kills, Grace Fortune had 13 service points (six aces), and 10 digs, Sara Regan added eight digs, and Maddie O’Brien dished out 13 assists to go with four kills.
Franklin, 3 @ Taunton, 0 – Final
Mansfield, 1 @ Oliver Ames, 3 – Final – Oliver Ames’ Alison Barth shined with an incredible 34 digs and 21 serve receptions to anchor a strong defensive effort in a 3-1 (25-18, 25-7, 23-25, 25-12) win for the Tigers. Ryley McNeeley paced the offense with 15 kills, Caroline Flynn added 10 kills, and Allie Kemp dished out 35 assists in the win.
Milford, 0 @ North Attleboro, 3 – Final – North Attleboro defended home court with a clean sweep over Milford, earning a 3-0 (25-21, 25-14, 25-15) decision. The Rocketeers had a strong game at the net with Kylie Melanson registering 11 kills, Abby Gallagher adding seven kills, and both Eliza Dion and Grace Munley chipping in with six kills. Brooke Street had eight digs for North.
Mansfield, 150 @ Oliver Ames, 154 – Final – Mansfield picked up a key division win on the road against Oliver Ames. Jason See had a medalist round of 35 to lead the Hornets while Ryan Dow and Joseph Gormley each shot 38. Brian See added a round of 39 for Mansfield.
Below are the official 2019 Hockomock League Softball All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League MVP
Kelsey White, Taunton
Hockomock League All Stars
Mckenzie Bergdoll, Attleboro
Makenzie Killough, Attleboro
Lora Woyton, Attleboro
Liz Bickett, Canton
Morgan Sylvestre, Foxboro
Jackie Cherry, Franklin
Ally Shea, Franklin
Anna Balkus, Franklin
Meghan Gorman, King Philip
Faith Turinese, King Philip
Mady Bendanillo, Mansfield
Lucy Creedon, Milford
Ashley Cangiano, North Attleboro
Abby Gallagher, North Attleboro
Bella Erti, North Attleboro
Katie Daby, North Attleboro
Karly Estremera, Stoughton
Alexia Baptista, Stoughton
Nicole Baker, Stoughton
Hanna Aldrich, Taunton
Jaime Brown, Taunton
Alexa White, Taunton
Kelsey White, Taunton
Baseball Super 8
#2 St. John’s Prep, 4 vs. #1 Franklin, 1 – Final
#7 Mansfield vs. #5 BC High, 7:00 – Postponed to Tuesday, 6/11 at 4:00 at Campanelli Stadium.
#12 Catholic Memorial, 3 @ #4 Taunton, 4 – Final – Taunton rallied from a 3-0 deficit, scoring twice in the fifth inning and then twice more in the bottom of the seventh to walk off with the win. Evan Melo got the Tigers on the board while Nic Notarangelo (2-for-3, walk) had a hit and scored a run in the fifth. In the seventh, Jared Roderick (walk), Andrew Gomes (error), and Melo (walk) loaded the bases with no outs. Gavin Leahy brought in the tying run with a sacrifice fly. After Notarangelo singled to load the bases again, Lucas Martins laid down a bunt to squeeze Nolan Melo in for the winning run. Junior Logan Lawrence earned the win on the mound, allowing three runs on seven hits and no walks, striking out eight. Taunton will travel to #9 Xaverian on Wednesday at 4:00.
#14 Bridgewater-Raynham, 7 @ #11 Attleboro, 8 – Final – Attleboro overcame an early deficit and then held off a late B-R charge to get the win and advance to the D1 South Semifinals. The Trojans raced out to a 4-1 lead over the first 1.5 innings, with Ryan Morry drawing a bases-loaded walk to score Tim Callahan (2-for-4, two runs). Morry (5.2IP, 6K) was strong in relief, which allowed Attleboro to get back into the game. Attleboro jumped in front for good with a five-run second inning. Sam Larkin (2-for-2) knocked in Troy Van Vliet with a single, Camden Fitzpatrick drove in both Callahan and Alvaro Espinal (two walks), and Lorenzo Wilson scorched a triple into the gap to bring two more runs in to make it 5-4. Larkin knocked in Van Vliet in the third, and Van Vliet scored his third run of the game on a sac fly from Espinal in the sixth inning. Attleboro will play #2 Durfee on Wednesday at 4:00 at Fino Field in Milford.
#11 Oliver Ames, 3 @ #3 Dartmouth, 1 – Final (9 Inn.) – Oliver Ames loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the ninth and pushed across two runs to pick up an upset on the road. Jake Erlich and Chris Pearsons (2-for-4, RBI) singled, and Jacob Levine was hit by a pitch in the top of the ninth before senior Reid Latham put the Tigers in front with a one-run single. Cam Perron brought a second run in with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1. Pearsons was strong on the mound, allowing one run on seven hits and no walks, striking out five in seven innings of work. Latham got the win in relief, tossing two scoreless innings in relief. Latham got a pair of strikeouts in the bottom of the eighth to strand the winning run at third. Jared Spillane (two walks) was vital in the win, stealing second and scoring on an infield single from Pearsons to put OA up in the fourth. Spillane also started a double play in the bottom of the ninth to help secure the win. Oliver Ames will play #7 Westwood on Wednesday at 4:00 at Adams Field in Quincy.
#8 North Attleboro, 0 @ #1 Bridgewater-Raynham, 1 – Final – North Attleboro’s Bella Erti and Bridgewater-Raynham’s Julia Perry put on a show for those in attendance, going back-and-forth in a pitcher’s dual. The Trojans managed just six hits against Erti, who struck out three (including the 400th of her career), getting a bloop single in the bottom of the ninth for the win. Olivia Capobianco and Ashley Cangiano each had a hit for the Rocketeers, Abby Gallagher had a pair of walks, and Emily Nardelli shined defensively at second for North.
#11 Franklin, 0 @ #3 Bishop Feehan, 1 – Final – A strong pitching performance from Jackie Cherry and an outstanding defensive effort behind her kept the Panthers in contention for the entire game but the Shamrocks earned a walk-off win with a pair of hits in the bottom of the seventh inning. Tara Hartnett had the lone hit of the game for the Panthers.
Boys Lacrosse D1 South
#6 Duxbury, 8 vs. #2 Franklin, 7 – Final – Franklin held the Dragons without a goal for nearly the entire fourth quarter but Duxbury scored its lone tally of the frame with 16.9 seconds left, finishing off a lengthy offensive possession for the game-winner. Franklin trailed 7-5 after three quarters but Jake Davis (three goals) scored twice in a two-minute span to knot the score 7-7 with three minutes to play. Duxbury scored on a close shot with 16.9 left for the winner. Ben Greco also had three goals for Franklin while Nitin Chaudhury scored once.
Girls Tennis D1 South
#4 Hopkinton, 2 @ #1 Sharon, 3 – Final – Sharon picked up two wins in singles action and another in doubles to nip Hopkinton and advance to the D1 South Final. Nupur Shukla earned a 6-4, 6-0 win at first singles, Valeria Barajas picked up a 6-3, 6-2 win at second singles, and the team of Lauren Glass and Makaila Cheung won 6-4, 6-2 at second doubles. Sharon (21-0) will play #2 Wellesley (19-0) on Wednesday at 4:00 at Somerset-Berkley. It’s the fourth time in the past five years the Eagles have reached the sectional final and third time they will take on the Raiders. Wellesley won in 2016 and Sharon won in 2017 – both teams went on to win the state title that season.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Having played each other twice in the regular season, including an 11-inning epic a little more than a week ago, there were no secrets between North Attleboro and Dartmouth in Saturday afternoon’s Div. 1 South first round game at Kelly Field. It all came down to execution.
The Rocketeers scored seven times with two outs, including six runs after having two outs and no one on base, while the Indians stranded 10 runners and North ran away with an 8-0 victory that not only sealed a win of the season series but sent Big Red into the D1 South quarterfinal to face top seed Bridgewater-Raynham.
“I thought our defense played really well today,” said North coach Bill Wallace. “When you see a team twice…Bella [Erti] throws hard, but that wow factor is gone. For us, they throw the lefty and come back with the righty, but we know that. When you only have three strikeouts and they put the ball in play 18 times then you’ve got to make the plays.”
Two-out hitting has been a theme of late, as North used a series of two-out hits to beat Taunton in the regular season finale and had a similar burst in the first inning on Saturday. With two outs, Ashley Cangiano (3-for-3, three RBI) singled to left, Annabelle Hebard drew a walk, and Katie Daby brought both runners in with a ringing double that bounced off the fence in right center.
“It just got us hyped and started and just play our defense after that,” said Cangiano about the quick start.
In the second inning, Olivia Capobianco reached on an error to lead things off. Abby Gallagher dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt and Capobianco showed off her wheels to go from first to third. She scored when Cangiano ripped a line drive to the centerfielder. It was the only run that North scored with less than two outs.
Wallace said, “It’s so much easier playing ahead than playing behind. When we bunted with Olivia on first, she goes first-to-third, you might not try that down a run.”
Mandi Hanewich drew a lead-off walk in the fourth and stole second on a pitch in the dirt. Capobianco bunted her to third and with two outs Cangiano came through with another line drive hit to right center to make it 6-0.
The runs kept coming, as North tacked on insurance runs off Dartmouth’s reliever Hannah Arruda (who hit a pair of home runs and drove in five the last time the two teams played), always wary of a dangerous Dartmouth lineup. With two down (again), Gallagher doubled to right center, the ball skipping past the centerfielder. Cangiano followed with a carbon copy, this time heading to third with an RBI-triple. Hebard doubled to left and North led 8-0.
This was far from an easy win for the Rocketeers. Dartmouth consistently put pressure on Erti and the defense, but North made the plays it needed, including a couple of spectacular grabs in the outfield. Gallagher got things started on the first out of the game, laying out in right to take a hit away from Arruda. Capobianco took extra bases away from the Indians in the fifth when she chased down Samara Turgeon’s drive to the fence, flipping over the fence after pulling in the catch.
Erti finished with only three strikeouts and Dartmouth left two runners on in the first, fourth, sixth, and seventh, but Cangiano praised her pitcher’s approach to grind her way out of jams.
“She just gets so focused and she knows what she’s doing,” Cangiano said about Erti bearing down with two outs. “She’s been pitching for so long that she’s so used to that kind of stuff.”
“Her biggest improvement this year has been limiting the walks and I know she walked two today but part of that was trying not to just pound the strike zone,” said Wallace. “I think a lot of those runners on base were with two outs and, honestly, if you want to point a finger at the game that was the difference: we had two-out hits and also made two-out plays. That’s huge.”
North Attleboro (16-5) will move on to the Div. 1 South quarterfinal to face top seed Bridgewater-Raynham on Monday.
TAUNTON, Mass. – As she walked off the field following the final out, North Attleboro third baseman Annabelle Hebard, smile on her face, head back, lifted her outstretched arms up and took a big breath. It had been a long couple of days for the Rocketeers, who traveled to Taunton on Friday night for their third game in three days. After suffering back-to-back losses, North went into the regular season finale against its fellow league champion trying to build momentum entering the playoffs.
North showed no ill effects from its busy schedule, jumping out to a four-run lead in the first inning, twice led by the Tigers by five runs, and then held off a late Taunton rally to earn a 6-5 victory at Jack Tripp Field. It was exactly the response that head coach Bill Wallace wanted from the Davenport division champions.
“We kind of needed this tonight,” North coach Bill Wallace explained. “We lost two games that weren’t the easiest to swallow, if you know what I mean, and this one, the kids are like okay we’ve got our mojo back. We did the little things, we bunted, we moved runners along.”
While North had been playing every day, Taunton had been off for five days and there was a little rust at the beginning of the game. Starting pitcher Kelsey White retired the first two North hitters, but then Ashley Cangiano beat out an infield hit on a slow roller to short. Hebard followed with almost the exact same play. Katie Daby made it three straight hits, lining a single to right to score the first run.
After Emily Nardelli drew a walk, Alex Moulson got North’s third infield hit, this time right up the third base line, and brought in the second run. Belle Clarkin, North’s No. 8 hitter, doubled the lead with a bloop single to right that scored a pair of runs.
“They came through with the hits when they needed them,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry, “but sometimes you’ve got to make those dribbler plays when you need them too. We were a little bit slow reacting today.”
A one-out error proved costly in the second inning for Taunton. Cangiano bunted Abby Gallagher to third with two outs and Hebard got her second hit of the day, grounding it right back up the box, to make it 5-0. All five runs were scored with two outs.
“That was really helpful,” said Wallace. “Bella [Erti] has thrown 24 innings in the last three days against three really good teams, so I think she could relax a little bit. She’s got more guts and that’s what it was, a gutsy performance.”
Despite having pitched 17 innings in the previous two days, including an 11-inning outing against Dartmouth on Wednesday, North starter Bella Erti came out firing. She struck out a pair in the first and didn’t allow a hit until the third. She only allowed six hits overall.
Taunton got one back in the fourth inning. Hanna Aldrich drilled a lead-off homer to straightaway center that made it 5-1. An error put McKenzie McAloon on and it looked like the Tigers might be able to start chipping away at the deficit but Moulson and Nardelli turned a quick 6-4-3 double play that effectively ended Taunton’s momentum.
The reason that Taunton was still in the game was the relief effort from Alexa White. The senior replaced her sister in the circle with two outs in the second and retired the first 11 batters she faced, nine of them by strikeout. She finished with 12 strikeouts in just 5-1/3 innings and allowed only one hit.
“She was amazing, especially considering she hasn’t pitched much in the last month,” said Lewry about White. “She pitched an inning or two here or there, so I really didn’t know what to expect. Today she was right on, kept us in it.”
North did manage a crucial insurance run in the sixth. With one out, Clarkin hit a deep fly ball to left that went off the fielder’s glove. Mandi Hanewich dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move Clarkin to third and then lead off hitter Olivia Capobianco stunned Taunton with a perfect safety squeeze to get the run in.
That run proved to be the game-winner because the potent Taunton offense found its footing against a tiring Erti in the bottom half of the inning.
Abigail McDonough singled to center with one out to start the rally. Aldrich ripped a single up the middle and then both runners read a pitch in the dirt to move into scoring position. McAloon walked to load the bases and then Payton Ceglarski belted a single to right to score a pair.
After a fly ball for the second out, Paige Silvia got her first hit of the game, singling to center to score another two runs and bring the Tigers back within one. Erti managed to escape with the lead, getting a grounder to third to end the threat.
“I think we developed some character tonight,” said Lewry. “We haven’t been in that position this year, we haven’t had to play from behind. I didn’t know how they would react, but they reacted pretty well. We learned that we can come back and we had some kids come through with some big hits tonight.”
Erti made quick work of the seventh, getting the Tigers in order to secure a win that has ramifications in the league title race, in the seeding for the upcoming tournament, and for North Attleboro (15-5, 13-3) confidence as it looks to make a run at bringing home a trophy.
Wallace said, “Part of what made this so important for a lot the kids is that we haven’t done very well against the Kelley-Rex (four of North’s five losses came against teams from the opposite division) and we were wondering, where are we? Now, we showed we can play with anyone.”
Taunton (19-2, 13-2) will now go into Saturday night’s rivalry game with King Philip needing a win to secure the outright league title and also to hang out to one of the top two or three seeds in D1 South.
“It’s a big game tomorrow,” Lewry admitted. “We want to win the Hock outright, so we need to win tomorrow. It’s as simple as that. It’s another big game, we just need to play from inning one not inning four.”