King Philip Rallies Late, Takes Down Taunton In Extras

King Philip softball Ava Kelley
King Philip sophomore Ava Kelley runs home for the go-ahead run after a double from Ava Lanza in the 10th inning. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 TAUNTON, Mass. — After suffering a tough extra-innings loss on Saturday night, the King Philip softball team showed up an hour early to practice the next morning eager to bounce back.

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.

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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.

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“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.”

King Philip Snaps Taunton’s Streak With Walk-Off Win

King Philip softball
King Philip players celebrate at home with senior Meg Sherwood after she scored the game-winning run. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 PLAINVILLE, Mass. — After missing a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, King Philip made sure to take advantage of its opportunity with the game on the line an inning later.

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.”

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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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“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.

King Philip Rallies Again, Cruises Past Plymouth North

King Philip softball Jordan Bennett
King Philip freshman Jordan Bennett tosses a pitch in the fourth inning against Plymouth North. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 PLAINVILLE, Mass. – The King Philip softball team played the majority of the regular season with a lead.

The Warriors are using the postseason to prove that they can come from behind too.

For the second straight tournament game, fourth-seeded King Philip overcame an early three-run deficit to land a win, this time a 9-3 decision over fifth-seeded Plymouth North in a Division 1 South quarterfinal matchup at the Plainville Athletic League complex.

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In the playoff opener, the Warriors found themselves in a 3-0 hole against visiting Milton before even coming to bat but rallied to tie the game and eventually take a 6-3 win.

In the top of the third inning on Wednesday evening, the Eagles of Plymouth South turned their first hit of the game into the first runs of the game. A walk to No. 9 hitter Marissa Durette proceeded back-to-back hits from Emily Jenkins and Megan Banzi, the latter pushing across the first run of the game. An RBI ground out from Kylee Carafoli made it 2-0, and a wild pitch brought one more run for a 3-0 advantage.

King Philip softball

King Philip freshman Jordan Bennett got a big strikeout swinging to end the inning, which seemed to give the Warriors an extra boost of momentum heading into the bottom half.

“She got that strikeout and we wanted to pick her up and score some runs,” said King Philip head coach Kate Fallon-Comeau. “We started to get the outs [in a row] and we’d feed off that coming up to hit. They did really well. They chipped away at the deficit and just got the bats going.”










Sophomore Ava Lanza got things started with a one-out single, stole second, and took third on a base hit from sophomore Charlotte Raymond, who took second on the throw. After a walk to sophomore Sarah Cullen, junior Mia Bennett smacked a hard hit ball through the right side to bring a run in.

Despite leaving the bases loaded, the Warriors got on the board with a run and from the offense scored in every in after.

After surrendering the three runs in the third, Jordan Bennett settled in to allow just two baserunners over the course of the final four innings. One was a leadoff single in the top of the fourth but that run was quickly erased by KP’s second double play of the game on a pop-up to Maddie Paschke at third and a quick throw to first to Anna Bradley to double the runner up. Bennett ended the inning with one of her five strikeouts.

Sophomore Taylor Regan (4-for-4, three runs) led off with one of her four singles on the night, senior Paige Berdos followed with a single, and Ava Lanza reached on an infield hit after timely base running from Regan on the left side of the infield as KP loaded the bases with one out for this second straight inning.

A pop-up to center made it two outs but Cullen, who hit the go-ahead home run in KP’s win over Milton, came up with another clutch hit with a hard-hit double down the left field line to bring in two runs to make it 3-3 after four innings.

“If they don’t get hits early on, it doesn’t really faze them,” Fallon-Comeau said. “They take each at-bat as a new, fresh start. Who cares if I grounded out last time? They put it past them and focus on the current at-bat.”

Bennett needed just seven pitches to retire the side in order in the top of the fifth and King Philip’s offense had its best showing in the bottom half, despite going against new pitcher Kylee Hefner, who replaced Caroline Collins.

King Philip softball

Ava Kelley led off with a walk and senior Libby Curran dropped down a perfect sac bunt to advance the runner. Regan singled to put runners on the corners and Jordan Bennett was hit by a pitch to load them up.




Berdos came about a foot away from a grand slam but the Warriors got a run out of it as a sacrifice fly and then Lanza doubled down the left-field line for two more runs. Two batters later, Cullen brought in a run with a two-out single, and KP’s lead improved to 7-3 after five innings.

“I knew they’d get the timing down eventually off of [Collins] and then they switched and [Hefner’s] speed was more in their wheelhouse,” Fallon-Comeau said. “And they were hungry up there and ready to hit by the fifth inning.”

Banzi led off the top of the sixth with a double, the only other batter to reach for the Eagles after the third inning, but she didn’t get any further. Bennett got a grounder back to the circle and back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

The Warriors tacked on some insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, the fourth straight inning KP pushed across a run. Kelley led off with a single and alertly took second after a pop-up and throwing error. Regan singled again to put runners on the corners and Bennett loaded the bases after being hit by a pitch.

Berdos smashed another deep ball, this one finding space in left field for a two-run double to extend the Warriors’ lead to 9-3.

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Bennett needed just eight pitches to sit the Eagles down in order in the top of the seventh to get the win.

“She’s not fazed by too many things, not much gets to her,” Fallon-Comeau said of Bennett settling down after giving up three runs in the third. In the playoff opener, Bennett allowed just one baserunner over the final four innings after giving up three runs in the first. “I think her older sister [Mia] kind of prepared her for this level. She wasn’t thrown off by any of their screaming. She just wants the ball and she’s ready to go, she’s a scrappy kid.”

With the win, King Philip earns a third date with division rival and top-seed Taunton, who handed the Warriors their only two losses of the season. First pitch between King Philip and Taunton is scheduled for 7:00 PM on Thursday at Jack Tripp Field on the campus of Taunton High.

King Philip softball

King Philip Sweeps Attleboro Behind Stellar Defense

King Philip softball Mia Bennett
King Philip junior Mia Bennett applies the tag at second after an outfield assist from Charlotte Raymond. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
PLAINVILLE, Mass. – With the playoffs right around the corner, the King Philip softball team is clicking on all gears.

The Warriors have boasted solid pitching and a punishing offense all season long, but for the second straight game, the defense stole the show. Aided by terrific effort plays and pinpoint accurate throws in almost every inning, King Philip scored a 7-5 win over visiting Attleboro.

Charlotte Raymond cut a runner down at second base in the early stages to set the tone, senior Anna Bradley made a pair of momentum-swinging plays at first, and Paige Berdos’ alert double play in the final inning helped put an end to Attleboro’s comeback attempt.

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“They made the plays they had to, that’s what you have to do against good teams. [King Philip] can really play in all aspects and we were right there with them,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Homer. “We’re disappointed with the loss but there are positives, we were competitive tonight, we were one swing away, we were only one swing away in the first game too.”

Both defenses played mistake-free ball, the second straight contest that saw both sides make big plays on offense and defense with no errors recorded. King Philip held a 1-0 lead, a 5-2 advantage, and a 7-5 edge; the final lead the only one to hold.

Attleboro took its first lead of the game with a pair of runs in the third inning, and just a half-inning after letting that lead slip away, the Bombardiers battled back with three runs to tie the game.

King Philip softball Attleboro softball










“That was a battle,” said King Philip head coach Kate Fallon-Comeau. “It was an all-around great game again, back and forth between two good games. Our defense has been really solid, and it’s been great these last two games. The assists we’ve gotten from the outfield in both games have changed the game.”

Offense was hard to come by in the first contest between the two teams, a 2-1 win for the Warriors. King Philip wasted little time to get things going on Wednesday night though, pushing across a run in the opening inning.

Berdos led off with a single and sophomore Ava Lanza (3-for-4) followed with a base hit of her own, but Attleboro catcher Lora Woyton caught the runner stealing at third. Two batters later, Raymond smacked a double off the fence in right-center field to plate Lanza and Sarah Cullen (HBP).

Woyton laced a shot to right field to lead off the second inning but Raymond was able to chase down the ball and fire to second where junior shortstop fMia Bennett applied the tag for the out.

Attleboro’s defense continued to make plays as well, as pitcher Lindsey Perry made a spectacular effort to snag a bunt for an out, quickly firing to first to double up the runner in the bottom of the second.

The Bombardiers carried that momentum into the top of the third where Meghan Gordon drove a solo shot over the center field fence to tie the game. Gabby Bosh drew a one-out walk and advanced to second during the next at-bat. Lindsey Perry smacked a hard-hit ground ball up the middle to bring in a run to put the visitors ahead 2-1 in the top of the third.

King Philip softball Attleboro softball

It looked like Attleboro would put a runner on with two outs in the top of the fourth but an incredible stretch at first by Bradley took away the infield hit. King Philip picked up a lot of momentum from the play and that translated to the offensive side of the ball.




Cullen was hit by a pitch again and two pitches later, Raymond drilled a home run over the fence and the Warriors were back ahead. On the next pitch, Meg Sherwood connected for a solo home run and KP’s lead grew to 4-2.

Freshman Maddie Paschke had a one-out single, freshman Jordan Bennett connected for a two-out single and took second on the throw, and Berdos drew a walk to load the bases. Lanza singled through the left side to bring in one run for a 5-2 advantage through four innings.

“I think those big plays on defense kind of carried us,” Fallon-Comeau said. “We got a lot of momentum from those plays, it just fired everybody up and we had the right bats coming to the plate at the right time. And we used that momentum to get some runs.”

Attleboro put two on to start the sixth with freshman Kayla Goldrick drawing a leadoff walk and Gordon followed with a single. Both runners advanced on a ground out to the pitcher, and Jordan Bennett (7IP, 7H, 2BB, 5ER, 5K) induced an infield pop up to get the second out.

Hailey Perry came through in the clutch, driving a 1-0 pitch over the left field fence for a three-run home run as Attleboro quickly erased the deficit to knot the score at 5-5.

In the bottom of the sixth, junior DP Lauren Hooper got things started with a one-out single. Berdos worked a long at-bat into a single into right field, but KP’s courtesy runner was thrown out at third on the relay. Lanza came through with another clutch two-out hit, this time bringing in Berdos, who had advanced to second on the throw, to take a 6-5 lead.

“She’s really stepped up in a big way for us,” Fallon-Comeau said of Lanza, who was recently inserted into the lineup. “We had an injury, losing our starting shortstop (Libby Walsh). I had intentions of getting her bat in the lineup at some point but it just came at the right time. And she’s proven her bat belongs in the lineup and when you can do that, you’re going to keep playing.”

Cullen reached for the third time, this time on a walk, and Raymond drew a walk as well to load the bases with two outs. Sherwood’s patience at the plate resulted in a third walk and the Warriors brought in an insurance run.

King Philip had one more big defensive play left to make. Attleboro put the leadoff runner on a bloop single to right and the next batter made a lot of contact but the ball was driven hard right to Berdos in center field and without hesitation, the junior fired to first and Bradley was in position to double up the runner. Bennett induced a grounder to the circle for the final out.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

While Attleboro softball came away from the series with a pair of losses, there were plenty of positives for the Bombardiers.

“Now we have to make it so we’re not staying with them, that teams are trying to stay with us. And it’s coming. We’re at the level where we go into these games against top teams knowing that we have a chance We feel like we’re peaking at the right time too. We’re not just doing it with one or two girls either, it’s a group effort. We’ve got a great mix of veterans and younger players. It’s a great team, they get along. And they have short memories, we’re already talking about Franklin for the next game.”

Attleboro softball (7-5) will travel to Franklin on Monday for the first of two games against the Panthers. Meanwhile, King Philip (12-0) sets up a Kelley-Rex division title showdown with Taunton, who is also undefeated. The winner of the first game will clinch at least a share of the crown. The Tigers host KP in the first game on Monday at 6:30.

King Philip softball Attleboro softball

Fallon-Comeau Takes Charge Of King Philip Softball

Kate Fallon-Comeau King Philip softball
Kate Fallon-Comeau was hired as the new King Philip softball coach after nine seasons with Franklin. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
PLAINVILLE, Mass. – Kate Fallon-Comeau is trading in her Franklin blue for the King Philip green and gold.

Fallon-Comeau, the Panthers’ softball head coach for the past nine seasons, was officially hired in the same capacity for the Warriors this week. King Philip was one of the most successful programs over the past decade, winning state championships in 2010, 2011, and 2016.

“It wasn’t an easy decision, but there was an opportunity and I went for it,” Fallon-Comeau said. “I loved every minute of my time at Franklin but I’m really excited to work with the girls at King Philip. There is a great feeder program in place, they have solid softball players every year. Like Franklin, they have a community that is passionate about softball. It just seemed like a good fit and the timing was right.”

Fallon-Comeau, the 2019 HockomockSports.com Coach of the Year, is plenty familiar with the Hockomock League. She was a star pitcher as a member of the Class of 2001 at Mansfield High. After a successful career as a catcher at Curry College, she took over the reins of the Panthers’ program in 2011. Under her guidance, Franklin went 112-86 and made the state tournament in all but two seasons. In the two seasons the Panthers didn’t make it, they had 10 and nine wins, respectively.

“Franklin will always hold a special place in my heart, it was really difficult to say goodbye to the returning players,” Fallon-Comeau said. “I can’t wait to get started with King Philip though, I’m really excited for the upcoming season and beyond.

“I want to thank athletic director Gary Brown and all of the administration at King Philip for the opportunity.”

In her tenure with the Panthers, Fallon-Comeau helped Franklin win 10 playoff games and earned back-to-back trips to the D1 South Sectional Semifinals in 2013 and 2014. This past season, Franklin pushed D1 South Finalist Bishop Feehan to the limit in a 1-0 walkoff win. King Philip went 13-9 this past season before losing to league rival Taunton in the tournament. The Warriors have won 11 league titles in the past 13 seasons.

Panthers Power Past Wellesley In Tournament Opener

Franklin softball Kate Fallon-Comeau Anna Balkus
Franklin head coach Kate Fallon-Comeau waves Anna Balkus home in a game against Wellesley. (Peter Raider/HockomockSports.com)

By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Contributor

FRANKLIN, Mass. — In a preliminary round matchup in MIAA Division One South tournament the 11th-seeded Franklin softball team played a near-flawless game, shutting out #22 Wellesley with a convincing 11-0 win.

After allowing a one-out single in the top of the first inning, Panther starter Jackie Cherry (4.1 IP, 1H, 5K) was lights out and didn’t allow another Raider hit while she was in the game.

Meanwhile, Franklin wasted little time to get its offense in gear. In the bottom of the first, Anna Balkus reached on a bunt single and came home two batters later on an RBI triple by Sarah Jackson.

Franklin struck again in the bottom of the third, this time for five runs as it sent nine batters to the plate. Ally Shea led off with a single and Balkus followed with a base hit. Maddy White grounded into a fielder’s choice, but with runners on first and first, Gabby Colace came through with an RBI single and Tara Hartnett did the same in Franklin’s next at-bat.

Cherry helped her own cause with a two-run single to center to put the Panthers up 5-0. Kylie Bouzan reached on an infield single, but the late throw to first was high, which allowed Cherry, who advanced to third on the single, to score.

“Attack…if you see a good pitch, hit it,” said Franklin manager Kate Fallon-Comeau on her team’s strategy at the plate.

In the bottom of the fourth, Franklin once again sent nine batters to the plate and scored another five runs. The script was similar to the prior inning, as both Shea and Balkus reached on singles, and White came through with a single. A throwing error scored Shea, and Jackson got her second RBI of the night as she singled to score Balkus. Colace brought home White with another single, and Cherry picked up her third and fourth RBI with another base hit.

Franklin wasn’t done hitting yet, however, as in the bottom of the fifth, Shea singled for Franklin, her third hit of the game, and also the 100th of her illustrious career at Franklin.

Cherry was replaced in the top of the fifth for Emily Valentino, who retired eight of the nine batters she faced in relief, with the lone hit being a single by MacKenzie O’Neil in the top of the sixth. Cherry and Valentino combined to allow just two hits while striking out eight.

“Both Jackie and Emily had a good day on the mound, Jackie kind of settled in after the first inning, really shut them down and Emily came right in and picked up where Jackie left off so it was nice to see,” Fallon-Comeau said about Franklin’s pitching performance.

With the win, Franklin moves on to face #6 Braintree. That game will be played at 3:30 in Braintree on Saturday.

“We just have to do what we’ve been doing all season long, one at-bat at a time, one inning at a time, and hopefully at the end of seven, we come out on top,” Fallon-Comeau said about Franklin’s approach against the Wamps.

Taunton Uses Small Ball To Get Past Panthers

Taunton softball Kelsey White
Taunton’s Kelsey White delivers a pitch in the fourth inning against Franklin. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
TAUNTON, Mass. – The Taunton softball team has been one of the most lethal and dangerous offenses in the state over the past couple of seasons, and with 165 runs scored this year, they are among the best again this year.

While the Tigers can certainly mash and string together hit after hit, one thing that Taunton is focusing on as the state tournament approaches is cashing in when the opportunity arises.

Taunton turned to small ball on Wednesday night at Jack Tripp Field, scoring the first three runs of the game via squeeze plays, earning a 5-0 win over Franklin in a battle of top teams in the Kelley-Rex.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The win avenges the Tigers’ lone loss, which was to the Panthers back in April, a loss that snapped the defending D1 State Champions’ 28-game win streak.

“It’s something that we’ve used in the past and it depends on the situation and the batters,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry of the small ball approach. “We haven’t been great at bunting this year but we’ve hit so well its kind of been hidden. But tournament time, you have to be able to bunt.”

Taunton scored once in the third inning on a squeeze play and then used back-to-back bunts in the fourth inning to bring in two more runs. Sophomore Kelsey White, who threw a complete game shutout with four hits allowed and eight strikeouts, smashed a two-run home run in the fifth inning for insurance runs.

“Tonight and the other night game against Feehan, a night game between two good teams, a playoff-like atmosphere,” Lewry said. “That’s why we try to have these games towards the end of the year because it helps come tournament time.

“That was a huge win, I thought both teams played very, very well. We have a tough schedule coming up so It’s a lot nicer to have a two-game lead gap than it is to be in a tie, that’s for sure.”

With first place in the Kelley-Rex division up for grabs, both teams had a bit of a nervous start. Franklin’s Ally Shea smacked a single to lead off and Anna Balkus dropped a bunt down to put the first two Panthers on base with no outs. White answered with back-to-back strikeouts and induced a grounder back to the circle for the third out and no damage done.

“We missed our opportunities against an outstanding team, they are a great team without a doubt,” said Franklin coach Kate Fallon-Comeau. We missed our chances, we had a good chance in the first inning getting the first two on, and you can’t do that against a team like that.”

Jaime Brown singled to open for the Tigers and moved to second on a wild pitch but Franklin starter Jackie Cherry (6IP, 7H, 3BB, 5K, 5ER) fanned the next two batters and got a fly ball to center to escape the first.

After a scoreless second, Brown led off the bottom of the third with a walk. Alexa White dropped down a sac bunt and Brown used heads’ up base running to scamper all the way to third. With an emphasis on bringing in the first run, Lewry elected to have sophomore Hanna Aldrich — who leads the league in home runs — drop down a bunt for a squeeze play and Brown sprinted home to make it 1-0.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had Hanna bunt, certainly not this year, I can’t remember before that,” Lewry said. “But you have to get that first run. Hanna is a good bunter too. Payton Cegarlski bunted a few games ago for us. It doesn’t matter who’s at the plate, you have a runner at third with one out or no outs, you have to get in that run.”

Ceglarski drilled a deep single to lead of the fourth and pinch runner Kylie Thorpe moved up to second on a sac bunt from Kelsey White. A wild pitch third strike put runners on the corners and Lewry again called for the squeeze. Eighth-grader Ava Venturelli laid the bunt down and Thorpe was able to score when the ball was mishandled at home.

On the next pitch, Abbie McDonough dropped another bunt and Paige Silvia came sprinting home to make it 3-0. The Tigers loaded the bases but Cherry got a fly ball to center and Balkus gunned a runner at home for a double play to prevent any more runs.

White retired eight straight before Franklin’s Maggie Hobby singled through the left side with two outs in the fifth. After Shea was hit by a pitch, the Panthers had runners on first and second but white got a ground ball to Brown at third for the third out.

In the bottom of the fifth, Aldrich had a leadoff single before Cherry retired the next two batters. After bunting in her previous at-bat, Kelsey White got a hold of a pitch this time and sent it over the center field fence for a two-run home run.

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A two-base error was erased by Kelsey White on a fielder’s choice in the sixth, and then she retired the side in order in the seventh, getting the final two outs on strikes.

“Kelsey was amazing tonight, huh?” Lewry said. “She had everything going, the changeup was probably the best she’s had all year and she got a lot of kids with that nice change. She’s been struggling a little at the plate, I told her yesterday I was thinking about flexing for her and she told me she was ready. She got into that pitch though and hit it pretty darn good.”

Taunton softball (10-1 Hockomock, 14-1) takes sole possession of first place with a game in hand. The Tigers return to action on Saturday night against Attleboro at 7:00. Franklin (9-3, 10-4) returns home for a game against Oliver Ames on Friday afternoon.

Dramatic Win Keeps Franklin Playoff Hopes Alive

Franklin softball
Franklin players race to celebrate with senior Meg Caron (26) after she drove in the game-winning run in the 10th inning to beat North Attleboro and keep Franklin’s chance to reach the tournament alive. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin came into Monday’s Memorial Day matinee with North Attleboro needing a victory keep alive hopes of reaching the postseason. After punching in a run in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings, throwing a runner out at the plate to stay tied in the ninth, and escaping a bases loaded jam in the top half of the 10th, the Panthers were just 60 feet from the win.

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Senior Meghan Caron, the lone Panther player celebrating senior night before the first pitch, stood at the plate with Tara Hartnett poised at third. Caron hit a chopper towards the left side of the infield and North shortstop Emily Nardelli had to come home with it, but Hartnett was off on contact and slid in ahead of the throw.

Franklin pulled out a 4-3 victory that split the season series against the Rocketeers and also sends the Panthers into the season finale knowing that a win will clinch a spot in the state tournament.

“I’m so pumped for her,” Franklin coach Kate Fallon-Comeau said of Caron. “They call her ‘Meg Money’ because she was so clutch when she was younger, growing up, and I’m just glad she was the one that was clutch today.”

It was a back-and-forth game from the start. The Panthers took the lead in the bottom of the first thanks to an unearned run. Allie Shea (3-for-5) got it started with a single to left and Anna Balkus beat out a bunt single. Nardelli made a diving stab of a Maddy White grounder up the middle to get a force at second but a bobble on a grounder off the bat of Hartnett brought Shea home.

North took its lone lead of the game in the third inning. Olivia Capobianco singled with one out and stole second. Abby Gallagher followed with a walk and then Ashley Cangiano lined a double into right center than scored one. North coach Bill Wallace held up Gallagher, as the Franklin relay got the ball in quickly, but Bella Erti helped her own cause with a single that drove in both runners for a 3-1 advantage.

Franklin cut the lead in half in the bottom of the inning. Balkus and White singled to start the inning and, after a force at third to get the lead runner, Hartnett singled to right to drive in White and make it 3-2.

After the third both pitchers settled into their starts. Erti retired 12 straight Franklin hitters from the third to the seventh inning and finished the game with eight strikeouts. Cherry kept the Rocketeers off-balance, moving the ball around and although she walked eight hitters, she also struck out 15 and didn’t allow a run over the final seven innings.

“She settled in nicely,” Fallon-Comeau said of her starter. “She found the pitch that worked for her and, you know, she just pounded parts of the zone that they didn’t seem to be hitting hard.”

North had its chances to extend the lead, stranding a pair of runners in the fourth and one each in the fifth, sixth, and seventh. “We did [get the hits] early to go up 3-1,” Wallace said, “but then we had runners in scoring position all day but we left a small village on base.”

The inability to tack on insurance runs came back to haunt the Rocketeers in the seventh. A one-out walk to the nine-hitter Gabby Colace got the rally started. Shea followed with a single to left and both moved up into scoring position on a groundout to first by Balkus. White hit a bouncer to short that Nardelli bobbled for a split second before firing to first. It was a bang-bang play at the bag and White was ruled safe, allowing the tying run to score.

“It’s either now or never, so get it done. If you want your season to continue then you need to get a run here, two would be nice,” said Fallon-Comeau of her message to the team before the seventh. She added, “They’ve been that way all season. They don’t get down. They really rise up for the competition.”

North nearly broke the deadlock in the ninth. A one-out walk to Gallagher was followed by a blast to center by Cangiano that one-hopped the fence. This time, Wallace elected to send the runner, but the relay from Balkus to Hartnett to catcher Maggie Hobby was perfectly executed to cut down the go-ahead run at the plate.

Fallon-Comeau explained, “I can’t tell you how many balls we’ve hit off the fence and say okay get the fastest kid in our program out at home. We do it all the time because it comes down to get the ball and perfect throw and perfect throw. If you don’t have that, then it’s a run.”

Franklin put two on in the ninth as well, with one-out singles by Shea and Balkus but Erti got a pop on the infield and a strikeout to end the threat.

“She grinded and that’s typical of her that she gets better as the game goes on,” Wallace said of Erti. “She’s not the least bit tired right now. In her eyes, she’d rather be out there throwing two, three more innings.”

The Rocketeers threatened again in the 10th. Katherine Munley drew a walk and with two outs Andrea Miceli lined a single to left. After Abby Warren drew a walk, the bases were loaded but Cherry was able to bear down and struck out Capobianco to keep the game tied.

“Little things win games like that and we didn’t do enough of the little things to win,” said Wallace, who added that this was good preparation for his team before the tournament. “We’ve got to do a better job situationally hitting, things like that, and these are things we can point out at practice.”

In the bottom of the inning, Hartnett singled to start the inning and moved up to second on a wild pitch. She failed to move up a base on a hard grounder to the right side by Kylie-Jade Bouzan but went to third on a second wild pitch. That gave Caron the chance to be the hero on senior night.

“We did it. I don’t know how we did it, but we did it,” said Fallon-Comeau. “Bill and I, since probably back when I was in high school because he was the coach when I played, have always had these barnburner games. It goes back-and-forth, back-and-forth all the time and I’m just glad it swung back in our direction this time because we needed it.”

Franklin (9-10, 8-8) will have one last game against Bridgewater-Raynham on Wednesday night. If the Panthers win, then they are in the playoffs. North Attleboro (15-3, 11-3) will face Davenport division champ Milford on Thursday.

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