On Monday night, the Warriors stayed extra late to get the job done against Taunton.
Junior Sarah Cullen clubbed a two-out single up the middle on a full count in the top of the seventh to bring in the tying run to keep the Warriors alive, and King Philip went on to score two runs in the top of the 10th inning to emerge with a key 4-2 win on the road over the Tigers.
With the score knotted at 2-2 since Cullen’s hit in the top of the seventh, King Philip finally broke the deadlock in the 10th inning. Sophomore Ava Kelley led off with a double to the gap in left center and junior Ava Lanza followed with a double to left field to bring in the go-ahead run. Kelley fouled off a bunt on the first pitch but then took a slap approach, finally getting one to fall in fair territory after fouling three consecutive pitches off.
“The plan was if she didn’t get it down on the first one then to take advantage of whatever the defense was giving,” Fallon-Comeau said. “She saw the third baseman was in so she went with the slap and she found a hole to left to bring [Kelley] in.”
Meg Sherwood smacked one to right center that dropped, allowing Lanza to come home to double the lead.
Sophomore Jordan Bennett tossed a complete game for the Warriors and retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning, getting her 10th strikeout for the final out.
“I told my assistant Bri [Sebio] before the inning that if we could get to Sarah, we would tie the game,” said KP head coach Kate Fallon-Comeau.
Freshman Liv Petrillo (3-for-5) started the rally in the top of the seventh with a leadoff double but KP couldn’t move her any closer after a bunt was popped up and another bid was caught at shortstop.
That set the stage for Cullen, who ended up in the nine-hole after Fallon-Comeau shuffled her lineup heading into the contest. Cullen was without a hit in her first two at-bats but made solid contact both times and Taunton played good defense both times.
“I just had a feeling, she had been hitting it well so far today,” Fallon-Comeau said. “I moved her out of the leadoff because I wanted to take the pressure off of her, it’s a tough spot. She’s been there since the beginning of the year and got into a little slump so just a chance of perspective, change of pitches…we wanted to get her up to bat with someone on base.
“She had been striking it well all day, it was just about finding a hole at some point. She just needed to believe in herself and get it done, and she did. And then she made that spectacular catch in center field too [in the 8th inning].”
King Philip sophomore catcher Maddie Paschke ended a threat in the bottom of the sixth by throwing a runner out trying to steal third. After that, Bennett allowed just one hit — a leadoff single to junior Ava Venturelli in the bottom of the sixth.
Bennett retired the next three batters she faced and went on to retire the side in order in the final four innings.
“She’s always unfazed, no matter what the score is,” Fallon-Comeau said. “She kind of just chipped away in the circle, they were hitting her early on but I felt like somewhere in the middle of the game she settled down. She was focused and lasered in and really started to hit her spots. I thought she did a great job.”
Taunton jumped ahead right out of the gate. Freshman Cate Larson (10 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 8 K) worked around a leadoff single from Kelley to strand a runner at second in the top half of the first, and the Tigers’ offense cashed in on its first chance.
Kyleah Plumb reached on an infield error after a bunt and took third on the same throwing error. Kaysie DeMoura followed two at-bats later with a well-hit ball up the middle for an RBI and an early 1-0 lead.
Larson retired the Warriors in order in both the second and third innings and Taunton took advantage once again after Plumb reached from the leadoff spot. This time it was a single, a sac bunt from Brooke Aldrich, an infield error, and a double steal that brought Plumb home to make it 2-0.
KP cut the deficit in half the next half inning as Taylor Regan reached on a fielder’s choice, took second on a single from Charlotte Raymond, and came around to score on a single up the middle from Petrillo.
“Any time we get to play them, we love it and it’s always a great game,” said Taunton head coach Carrie Consalvi. “We were missing some key players tonight so I’m proud of them for hanging around with [KP] and playing 10 innings with them. [Larson] has maybe pitched a max of four innings in one game this year so for her to go 10 innings was impressive.
“But you can’t expect to score one or two runs and expect to beat KP. They are scrappy and they just keep plugging along. It was the first game in a while our offense went quiet but we’ll look to bounce back.”
Taunton (10-2 Hockomock, 11-2 overall) is back in action under the lights on Wednesday against Franklin. King Philip softball (11-0, 13-2) has the inside track to the Kelley-Rex division title but Fallon-Comeau said the focus remains solely on their next opponent, Mansfield.
“We still have a lot of games left so we didn’t talk about the division,” Fallon-Comeau said. “We have to just keep playing hard, this isn’t it. We still have a lot of Hock games left against good teams so we still have a lot of work to do.”