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.”
Senior Meg Sherwood (2-for-4, home run) led off the bottom of the seventh with a triple down the right field line and sophomore Ava Kelley followed with her first hit of the game, a sharp single up the middle to give the Warriors a 5-4 walk-off win over Taunton, snapping the Tigers’ 21-game win streak.
“I think they know how big of a win this is but I told them they can enjoy it from the rest of the night, but we’re right back to work tomorrow,” said King Philip head coach Kate Fallon-Comeau. “We have 20 regular season games to go, we have to take it one game at a time.
“We just put a big bullseye on our back and everybody is coming for us now.”
Taunton took the lead with a three-run first inning only for King Philip to quickly erase it with three runs of its own in the bottom half. The Tigers grabbed their second lead of the game with a run in the top of the fourth inning but once again, the Warriors had the answer and pulled even again.
The host Warriors had a chance to take their first lead of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning after freshman Liv Petrillo was hit by a pitch and Maddie Paschke reached on an error after a bunt. But Taunton freshman Cate Larson (3IP, 5H, 3ER, 6K 0BB), who came on in relief in the fourth inning, sandwiched a pair of strikeouts around another sac bunt to strand runners at second and third.
King Philip sophomore starter Jordan Bennett (7IP, 8H, 4R, 3ER, 6K, 0BB) fielded a grounder for the first out of the top of the seventh and then got back-to-back outs against the top of the Taunton lineup to set up the Warriors’ walk-off.
“We kind of did it a little bit in the tournament last year where we’d go down and come back so I love that about them, they are very resilient and they don’t get fazed by being down,” Fallon-Comeau said of coming back from a pair of deficits. “They make the plays they need to and know they can dig out of it.
“I wish we didn’t give up the runs first, but that’s softball for you. It should be a back-and-forth, that’s a sign of a great game. But I love that they are so resilient.”
While it ended how KP wanted, it wasn’t an ideal start. Angie Lynch smacked a hard grounder in the infield for a single and then Kaysie DeMoura’s sac bunt wasn’t fielded cleanly, sending Lynch to third. After DeMoura stole second, Brooke Aldrich reached first on a fielder’s choice with Lynch safe at home.
Aldrich followed suit with a stolen base and a ground out from Ava Venturelli brought DeMoura home, and then a hard-hit single to left field from Hayley Krockta brought Aldrich in. Bennett induced a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
It didn’t take long for King Philip to muster up a response. Junior Sarah Cullen laced a double to right and Ava Lanza reached safely on a bunt to put runners on the corner. After Taunton starter Liv Mendonca (3IP, 5H, 3ER, 6K 0BB) got a strikeout, Sherwood launched a home run deep over the left field fence to make it 3-3.
“We needed this, this team needed like this because we’ve kind of been sleepwalking,” admitted Taunton head coach Carrie Consalvi. “I’m glad we had this moment and it will feed some hunger. [King Philip] is our equal, they are a great team that’s well-coached and I think both teams played hard until the end. I think we needed this.”
Taunton nearly went back ahead in the top of the second after a bunt from Kyleah Plumb and an error allowed Kylie Thorpe to reach to put runners on the corner. But KP catcher Maddie Paschke gunned the runner down at second, and after a dropped third strike, Paschke got the out at first and first baseman Taylor Regan quickly fired it back home to catch the runner in a pickle for the third out.
Krockta started the top of the fourth inning with a bang, launching a 3-1 pitch deep over the fence in center to put the Tigers back ahead. Plumb had a one-out double but Bennett got back-to-back strikeouts to limit the damage.
Paschke got a fly ball to drop in shallow center for a one-out single and Cullen followed with her second double of the game. Bennett came up for her first at-bat as the flex and dropped down the squeeze bunt to bring in the tying run in the form of courtesy runner Olivia Ali. Larson stranded the runner at third with a pop up to left.
“We aren’t leaning on just one player, they are spreading it around. Meg, a senior captain, had the big home run and then of course the triple. I wanted to go with squeeze [for Ava] but didn’t want to go on the first pitch, and they were ready, so you’re playing a little mind game.
“But we still have a lot of work to do and [Taunton] is going to get better, they absolutely are.”
It’s the second time that Fallon-Comeau has snapped a lengthy Taunton winning streak. Back in 2019 as the head coach at Franklin, she led the Panthers to a 2-1 upset win that ended a 28-game win streak. That was also the last time Taunton lost to a division opponent.
King Philip softball (2-0 Hockomock, 2-0 overall) is scheduled to return to action on Thursday with a trip to visit the Black Knights of Stoughton (2-1). Taunton (1-1, 1-1) will look to start a new winning streak on Friday when it visits Sharon.
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.”
Taunton athletic director Mark Ottavianelli recently announced that Carrie Consalvi will take over as the new softball coach this spring. She replaces legendary coach Dave Lewry in the Taunton dugout, following his retirement in November after 20 successful seasons in charge of the program.
“It’s super successful,” said Consalvi about the draw of taking over at Taunton. “It’s full of kids who are talented and super-motivated, and obviously has a big tradition of being successful and working hard. I kind of would rearrange my life to do this, to walk into this and not have to start from ground zero and not have to worry about motivating athletes. They’re going to come to me motivated.”
After starting her collegiate career at Sacred Heart, Consalvi played three years at Bridgewater State. A catcher and designated player, Consalvi was selected to the school’s Hall of Fame. She batted .387 for her career, helping the Bears win three straight MASCAC titles, appear in three straight Div. III World Series, earning three straight all-conference selections, and twice was named a Div. III second team All-American.
Consalvi spent one season coaching JV softball at her alma mater, Quabbin Regional, and was an assistant coach for three years at BSU. In the past few years, as her daughter has become more interested in softball, Consalvi made trips up from her home on the Cape to coach in the Taunton Youth Softball program.
She explained, “I really always loved the college level, the high school level and to have an opportunity when you have a town that has such a great foundation for softball; it’s like a breeding ground for softball. I just think I have so much as a female former player and coach to give them.”
The chance to take over one of the state’s perennial powers and a program that has strong foundations in terms of talent was one that Consalvi couldn’t pass up, even if it meant the formidable challenge of following in Lewry’s footsteps.
“It’s huge shoes to fill, but when talking with him I think our philosophies really lined up a lot,” Consalvi said. “Just getting an opportunity to understand and know how he felt about the sport and the team and how he ran things, we kind of shared some similar philosophies.”
She continued, “I’m sure that I’m going to do things a little differently than he would, so my concern is how are we going to learn to understand and communicate with each other to be successful. The meetings I’ve had have been really positive. I’m sure they were nervous, who is this person coming in and do they not only know the game but do they understand us as female student-athletes, and so far I think we already mesh well.”
Consalvi has met with her captains for the upcoming season and is excited to get started building on last year’s league title and the 2018 state title.
“As a team, ourselves, I would expect us to have those goals,” Consalvi said about the lofty expectations around the team. “We always strive to be the best we can be. There’s this big sort of pressure around us because they’ve won multiple league titles and won multiple state titles. Just speaking with the captains in recent weeks, I know that the kids are hungry to get back out there and to start getting their feet dirty and making strides to going after the league title.”
Considering the level of competition across the league, winning a title is never a foregone conclusion but Consalvi sees that challenge as a positive to get the team prepared for a postseason run.
“I think we’re really fortunate that the towns and the teams around us are so strong,” she said. “Anyone who comes out of the league is going to be a contender in states because they’re always playing such great competition.”