The Whalers, limited to just three hits through six innings by KP senior pitcher Faith Turinese, suddenly had an offensive surge. Down to the final out and trailing 3-1, New Bedford smacked three consecutive doubles leading to two runs to knot the score and extend the game
But the game didn’t last much longer. The Warriors, seemingly unfazed by the rally from the visitors, had an immediate response in the bottom of the seventh. Destiny Goyco was hit by a pitch to put the winning run on base. Ryann Stagg, the nine hitter, fell behind 0-2 but drilled the third pitch she saw into the gap in left field, and with the outfield playing in, courtesy runner Heather Nix sprinted around the bases and all the way home to give King Philip a 4-3 walk-off win.
“It’s never easy,” quipped KP skipper Norm Beauchemin as the Warriors notched a tournament win for the fifth straight season. “[New Bedford] plays some good competition, they play a lot of people in the South Coast [Conference]. They usually try to play a pretty good schedule.
“They are tough kids, they have a great attitude. They work hard and they play hard, we’re no different than King Philip teams of the past in terms of attitude.”
Of the Whalers’ three hits prior to the seventh inning, two came in the opening frame. After Turinese (7IP, 6H, 1BB, 2ER, 7K) fanned the first batter of the game, New Bedford strung together back-to-back singles to put runners on first and second. Turinese got another strikeout, this one on a dropped third strike. With first occupied, the runner was automatically out but the Whalers were aggressive on the bases and the runner on second took off to third.
The throw from home was high, allowing the run to scamper home and just beat out a great throw from left fielder Liliana Rolfe and put the visitors up 1-0 early on.
From that point on, Turinese allowed just two bases runners between the second and sixth innings. After a leadoff walk in the second, Turinese retired eight straight before the Whalers had a pair of runners reach in the fifth on errors.
Meanwhile, senior Meghan Gorman was the catalyst on the offensive side of the ball. She was hit by a pitch in the first and stole both second and third with two outs but was stranded there. She was back at in the fourth inning, lacing a double to drive in Raegan Simeone, who had doubled in the at-bat before.
Rolfe wasn’t credited for an RBI on the next play but was certainly responsible for giving KP the lead. She reached on a bunt single, moving Gorman to third, With the infield in focusing on the bunt, Rolfe took off for second. Although the Whalers made the play at second, the throw allowed Gorman to sprint home for the go-ahead run.
“Two really smart players. You’re not going to find many players more heads up than Meg but Lil is not far behind at all. If you blink, they are taking a base. That’s a decision she made, and we’ve been an aggressive base-running team through the years. If they make the play and you’re out, but it was the right play, I’m good with it. “
An inning after taking the lead, a pair of errors threatened to give it back to New Bedford. Back-to-back mistakes put runners on first and second, and both runners advanced on a ground out to Turinese in the circle. Turinese got a ground ball and the Warriors were able to catch the runner on third off of the bag as Paige Berdos fired to Gorman for the tag. A fly ball to first baseman Anna Bradley ended the inning.
KP tacked on another run just a half inning later, with Gorman coming through again. Berdos got things going with a two-out double and stole third before pinch hitter Madison Kelley drew a walk. Gorman smoked the first pitch she saw off the center field fence for an RBI double, putting the hosts up 3-1.
New Bedford got its first hit of the game since the first inning with a leadoff single in the sixth but the runner didn’t go any further as Turinese got three straight infield fly balls.
King Philip softball (13-9) advances to play at #2 Taunton (20-2) in the First Round of the MIAA D1 South tournament on Monday at 7:00. The Tigers won both regular season games, taking a 7-0 decision at PAL in early April and a 12-0 win at Jack Tripp Field in the regular season finale.