Fittingly, the Tigers were the last team to win a league game at PAL, back in 2016. Taunton was on the verge of a win last season before a seventh inning rally resulted in a walk-off win.
This time, Taunton jumped ahead early, building a 5-0 lead through three innings and that lead was more than enough for sophomore pitcher Kelsey White (CG, 2H, 4K).
“I thought we played a complete game,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry. “Our pitching was outstanding, Kelsey was really on today. We played good, solid defense, and we hit the ball well, especially early. Hanna [Aldrich] got into a couple, and that’s what you have to do to beat this team. They are solid, they are going to be around come the end of the year.”
Sophomore Hanna Aldrich was the catalyst for the Tiger offense. In her first at-bat, she launched a two-out solo home run over the fence in left field to put the visitors up a run after an inning.
Eighth-grader Ava Venturelli led off the top of the second with a walk for the Tigers and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Alexa White. A double off the wall in right from Paige Silvia put runners on second and third.
Payton Ceglarski brought Venturelli home with a sacrifice fly into right field with Raegan Simeone making a terrific running catch and nearly getting the runner at home with a great throw. Silvia, who moved to third on the sacrifice, came home to score on a passed ball to make it 3-0.
After allowing a two-out single in the bottom of the first inning to KP’s Faith Turinese, Kelsey White retired the side in order in the second, getting a strikeout and two ground balls.
Taunton’s offense was back at it again in the top of the third. Kelsey White reached on a bunt with one out and Aldrich delivered again. This time, Aldrich smashed the second pitch she saw well over the wall in left for a two-run homer and a 5-0 lead on the scoreboard.
“I think it’s every team’s plan, you want to get an early lead and put the pressure on the other team.=,” Lewry said. “For Hanna get that home run in the first inning and give us the lead, and kind of take a little pressure off, that was huge. And then she added another in the third too.”
King Philip’s Grace Kelley reached on an error to start the bottom of the third but White got a pop up to center, erased the lead running with a grounder, and another out to left to prevent any damage.
The sophomore right-hander retired the side in order in the fourth, five, and sixth innings, getting five ground balls for outs.
“That’s the key, you have to play good defense,” Lewry said. “Kelsey was pitching to contact today. She threw a lot of good changes, she got some swings and misses but she got a lot of ground balls which is what we were trying to do in this situation.”
Taunton added some insurance in the top of the sixth inning. Sophomore Tayah DeCosta drew a two-out walk, and courtesy runner Kylie Thorpe advanced to third on a single from Rylie Murphy (Abigail McDonough re-entered to run). Senior Jaime Brown knocked both runners in with a double to left field to increase the score to 7-0.
Taunton softball (2-0 Hockomock, 3-0 overall) is back in action on Friday when it visits Foxboro. King Philip (1-2, 1-2) returns to PAL on Tuesday to host Bishop Feehan.
2018 Record: 9-12 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Mark Homer
After back-to-back playoff appearances, the expectations are high around the Attleboro program this spring. The Bombardiers return eight of nine starters from last year’s team and the lineup should be loaded with good hitters, as well as multiple players who can step into the circle and produce a good start. With the depth on the roster this season, Attleboro will be eyeing another postseason berth.
Senior McKenzie Bergdoll is one of the top power hitters in the league and will be back for another spring in the heart of the Attleboro lineup. She will be joined by classmates Jordyn Lako and Kayla Battisti as starters. Junior Makenzie Killough will be back at shortstop and also batting cleanup and providing protection for Bergdoll in the order. Sophomore Lora Woyton returns behind the plate, sophomore Autumn O’Connell will be in center and batting second and junior Ashley Macia will be out in left. Sophomore Brenna Morse will be taking over in rightfield. In the circle, Attleboro has plenty of depth with juniors Emily and Jenna Gittle and Bergdoll all able to step in. The Bombardiers will try to take advantage of their overall team speed and head coach Mark Homer said there are a few freshmen who may see playing time right away.
“The bar was set high from last season,” said Homer. “So the girls are onboard to perform well again this season with high hopes of competing in every game they play. They have set some goals to achieve one a\t a time. I am cautiously optimistic with our chances of winning more games this season than we have in the past. Knowing that there are no easy games on our schedule so we have to come to play every night.”
2018 Record: 8-13 2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Dave Bohane
Canton had quite the turnaround in 2018 under second-year head coach Jennifer Robillard, winning eight games, seven more than in 2017, and making a return to the state tournament. Robillard, last season’s HockomockSports.com Coach of the Year, has moved on to a position at Bentley and football coach Dave Bohane has taken over a team that has seen an influx of young talent and has momentum on its side heading into the spring.
Junior pitcher Caroline Hughes is one of the reasons for optimism in the program, as she is looking to build off a strong sophomore season in which she pitched almost every inning. Hughes was also one of the team’s top hitters and she will be at the heart of the lineup along with sophomore outfielder Liz Bickett, who batted .409 last season. Bickett is just one of several sophomores who the Bulldogs will be counting on, including infielders Olivia Lanci and Sarah Kelly, catchers Steph Trendell and Amanda Vrabel. Junior catcher Jackie Howard and seniors Haley Donovan and Ally Chin will provide leadership for this young group to try and get the Bulldogs right back into the state tournament mix.
“I am very excited to be coaching this team,” said Bohane, who has previously served the program as an assistant coach. “They are extremely hard working and devoted to the program. I think they will set the standard for our future players who come through the program. It’s a very tough league, but we will take it one game at a time and try to improve each game”.
2018 Record: 11-12 2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Mark Maguire
Foxboro made a run in the Div. 2 tournament last season, winning a pair of games before being knocked out in the quarterfinals, and the Warriors will hope to build on that exciting finish to 2018 by making a run at the Davenport crown this spring. Even with the loss of catcher Hannah Davis, who was instrumental in the team’s playoff run, Foxboro has a strong returning core and some talented young players stepping in to give head coach Mark Maguire confidence ahead of the new season.
Senior Emma Rohan will be back in the circle for her fourth year as the Foxboro starter and she has the experience of pitching in a number of big games and against the top teams in the league. Senior Cam Willis will play first this season, but can also step in and pitch if needed along with junior Amelia Stowell. The pitchers will have a rookie to throw to, as freshman Allie Willis will be stepping in behind the plate. Sophomore Morgan Sylvestre returns at shortstop after a strong first season on varsity and will be one of the leaders of the infield. Senior Chelsea Gibbons is at third base and freshman Peyton Feldman takes over at second. Sophomore Nicole Theriault will be in centerfield but can play a number of positions, senior Riley Martignetti gives the team pop from the right side of the plate, and senior Jill Finn can play all three outfield positions.
“Preseason is going great as the girls are working very hard to be ready for the season,” said Maguire. “We have a group of girls who work hard. I think team defense should be good with our senior leadership, and the younger players who aggressively look to make plays in the field. I have high expectations for this team, as we look to compete for a Davenport title and gain a state tournament berth.”
2018 Record: 9-11 2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Kate Fallon
Franklin has consistently been right behind perennial league leaders Taunton and King Philip in the Kelley-Rex division standings but has narrowly missed out on the playoffs by a single win in each of the past two seasons. This year, the Panthers have eight seniors coming back with the goal of getting the team back into the postseason and use a typically tough schedule to prep for a tournament run.
Pitching will be a strength for the Panthers this year with seniors Jackie Cherry and Emily Valentino giving the team depth and different options in the circle. Throwing strikes will be the key for both and limiting opposition base runners. Behind the plate, Franklin has plenty of experience as well with seniors Ally Shea and Maggie Hobby both capable of stepping in and handling the pitchers as well as providing power at the plate. Senior Tara Hartnett will be back at shortstop and provides strong defense up the middle. Junior Anna Balkus will be in centerfield and will set the table for the offense as the lead-off hitter. Junior Maddie White will be at third base and joins Shea and senior Kylie-Jade Bouzan as the team’s primary run producers.
“We are excited to see the Panther players on the field again,” said Franklin coach Kate Fallon-Comeau. “Overall our tough league and non-league schedule will keep us focused for tournament and we will rely on our solid pitching and defense.”
2018 Record: 21-4 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Final Coach: Norm Beauchemin
Every season King Philip loses important players and every season the Warriors seem to be right back in the mix for the league title. This spring should be no different. KP will have several important players to replace in the lineup, but it expects to challenge for a 12th title in the past 13 seasons and also make another tournament run, following last year’s South final loss to Kelley-Rex rival Taunton.
Meghan Gorman is the player to watch for the Warriors this season, as the senior shortstop is one of the top defensive players in the state and also the spark plug at the top of the lineup. Senior Faith Turinese will move from the outfield into the circle and will split time with classmate Heather Nix as the top pitchers for the Warriors. Turinese also batted over .400 last year and will be an important bat in the middle of the order. Junior Destiny Goyco will step in behind the plate, after overcoming an injury from basketball season, and fellow junior Liliana Rolfe will take over at third. Grace Kelley will be at second base and Anna Bradley will be at first. The outfield will be filled with speed, including Kara McWhinnie in left, sophomore Paige Berdos in center, and either Ryan Stagg or junior Reaegan Simeone in right.
“One to nine, everyone hits the ball,” said KP coach Norm Beauchemin. “I’m looking forward to another solid season. The league overall is going to be very competitive, so it should be fun.”
2018 Record: 7-13 2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Lori Letendre
Mansfield is looking to bounce back from a tough 2018 season in which the Hornets struggled in the Hockomock (going 4-12 in league play) and missed the playoffs. This year, Mansfield hopes for a quick turnaround and return to the state tournament with an experienced roster that brings back 11 players, seven starters, and seven seniors from last season.
The battery of senior pitcher Sarah Cahill and senior catcher Caty DeMassi is back and should give the Hornets a good foundation on which to build on this season. Seniors Megan Letendre and Kara Bendanillo will hold down the left side of the infield and provide pop in the middle of the lineup, while Mady Bendanillo returns in centerfield to give Mansfield a dynamic defensive player and another strong bat. There is an influx of youth as well with two sophomores and a freshman jumping into varsity and having the chance to contribute right away.
“Our goal is to make it back to the tournament this year and with strong leadership from our captains and our seniors, I think we will have a good shot at it!” said Mansfield coach Lori Letendre.
2018 Record: 18-3 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Steve DiVitto
The biggest question for Milford is how do the Hawks move on from a group of 10 seniors that won a combined 79 games, four league titles, and the 2017 state championship? Milford has been the team to beat in the Davenport division for six years and a relatively inexperienced group will have to face a season in which the target for every team in the league is squarely on their backs.
Junior Megan Hart is one of the primary options to replace Kelley Reichert in the circle to start the season, with freshman Olivia Morelli showing potential to step in and contribute innings right away. Senior Lucy Creedon can step in at first or in the outfield. Junior April Swain will jump into the outfield along with classmate Taylor Waldrup, while junior Amanda Wenckus can play either position on the left side of the infield and sophomore Carly Ferreira can play either corner infield spot. Sophomore Elise Fauerbach can play behind the plate or in the outfield, while her classmate Natalie Casilli will take an outfield spot. There are a lot of spots to fill this year, but head coach Steve DiVitto is talking about that as an opportunity for a new group of players to step into.
“We understand that lack of experience is something that we will need to combat with, however the bar will continue to be set high!” DiVitto said. “Each year a new page is turned over, and as always the focus is: what’s your legacy going to be? Keeping our awesome team chemistry will be an important part of this season. We’re excited for the challenges of playing in the best league in the state!”
2018 Record: 16-5 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Bill Wallace
Two seasons ago, North Attleboro was a young team that made a surprise trip to the South semifinal, but this year the Rocketeers will have much higher expectations. North is now the experienced team in the Davenport division and has aspirations of unseating Milford and winning a first league title since 1990 and adding to the league’s recent history of strong tournament performances with another deep run.
Junior pitcher Bella Erti will be one of the league’s top pitchers again this season, after a 15-5 sophomore season in which she struck out 137 batters. She also hit .357. Junior Ashley Cangiano is also back for her third year as a starter and is one of the top catchers in the league. Abby Gallagher returns to the North outfield after hitting .500 last season as a sophomore and senior Olivia Capobianco will be back in centerfield and the middle of the North lineup. Freshman Mandi Hanewich and sophomores Emma Bailey and Belle Clarkin will compete for the third outfield spot after impressive preseasons. Senior Katie Daby is at first, while sophomore Emily Nardelli moves from shortstop to second base. Junior Alex Moulson takes over at short and her classmate Annabelle Hebard will be at third. Emily Bedard and Mackenzie Nardelli add to North’s infield depth and Alivia Byrne will give Erti a rest in the circle and is another big bat in the lineup.
“We will need to be more multi-dimensional, as late in the year we couldn’t sustain our offensive start to the season,” said North coach Bill Wallace. “This group really wants to make their mark on the league and they know how much work that is going to take.”
Last season was a struggle for the Tigers, with only three wins and head coach Lindsey Allison is hoping that a group of younger players can add to the returning core and make a push to get Oliver Ames back into the state tournament. Allison is confident that the offense will get into the swing of things for the Tigers after scoring only 66 runs last season, second-lowest in the league.
Senior Kayla Georgeu will be back in the circle for OA and in the heart of the lineup. The Tigers will count on sophomore Emma Varella to provide some innings at pitcher, as well as playing in the infield. Senior first baseman Katie Mills is a big bat for the Tigers and junior Katie Abreu can step in at either shortstop or centerfield depending on the game to provide vocal leadership. Sophomore Grace Simone will be behind the plate this season.
“Every spot is open for the taking and there are many young players who are hungry to be on the field,” said Allison. “This group of players seem like a team – not just a group of individuals. They compete with one another for positions, but also support each other. They hold each other accountable and communicate. I am excited to see what hard work can accomplish this season.”
It was definitely a rough debut season for Sharon coach Heather Poliferno, but it was also a chance for a number of young players to get experience at the varsity level. This spring, there is renewed enthusiasm with a crop of underclassmen joining the experienced players to give Poliferno and the Eagles confidence for a much better spring.
Freshman Trinity Payne is the player to watch for the Eagles this season as she takes over as the starting pitcher and has already drawn the attention of coaches in the Davenport division. She will be used at a couple of different positions and gives the Eagles versatility in the lineup. Senior Alli Small will be back at shortstop this season, while classmate Jody Goldenberg is back at first, and senior Rebecca Clayman will be the leader of the outfield group. As the program is growing, Sharon is hoping for much different results this season.
“We are very excited for this season!” said Poliferno. “We have many returning players leading our varsity team, as well as the addition of a very talented freshman class. Though we have only had a handful of practices, one of our clear strengths is our desire to be the best on the field.”
2018 Record: 7-13 2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Deb Parker
Stoughton struggled to find a groove in 2018 and ended up missing the playoffs under first-year head coach Deb Parker, who had made the switch from Sharon before last season. This year, the Black Knights bring back starters in key positions and once again have the potential to make a run at a state tournament berth and even challenge for the Davenport title.
Seniors Nikki Coppola (second base) and Jordan Lyons (shortstop) give Stoughton a strong combination up the middle and senior Karly Estremera brings plenty of experience at third base. Sophomore pitcher Nicole Baker will take over full-time in the circle this season and Parker is impressed by the work that she put in during the off-season to get ready. Baker will be throwing to an experienced catcher, as senior Brianna Ferrandiz is back behind the plate for the Black Knights. Junior Lexi Baptista will lead the outfield crew in center and could also be one of Stoughton’s top hitters this season. Freshmen Melody Casna and Sydney Menz will give the Black Knights versatility by playing multiple positions.
“This team has come together so quickly, it is a real tribute to the leadership of our captains,” said Parker. “This team knows what they are playing for this year and we have high expectations going into the season. Softball in the Hockomock League is incredibly competitive but if we continue to work hard, we should have a great season.”
2018 Record: 26-2 2018 Finish: Won D1 State Championship Coach: Dave Lewry
How do you follow up a state championship? For Taunton, it just may be to make a run at a repeat. The Tigers lost the second, third, and fourth hitters in the lineup (including league MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Kya Enos), who combined for 88 RBI, but there is a ton of talent coming back from last season, all of whom contributed at one point or another during Taunton’s run to the title.
It starts in the circle where sophomore Kelsey White will be the starter again this season after going 16-2 as a freshman and pitching every inning during the playoff run (not to mention batting .418). Her sister Alexa will also see time at pitcher, along with freshman Olyvia Mendonca, but will also play most of the season in centerfield. The infield will be a strength for the Tigers, with all four players back. Senior Jaime Brown (batted .469) is back for her fifth year at third base and is one of the top hitters in the league, sophomore Hanna Aldrich (.385 average with four homers and 30 RBI) is in her third year at shortstop and was this site’s Underclassman of the Year in 2018, sophomore McKenzie McAloon returns at second base for her third season, and junior Paige Silvia is back at first. Silvia and junior Riley Murphy are also in the running to replace Enos behind the plate, while junior Abbie McDonough takes over in left and eighth-grader Ava Venturelli could start the season in right.
“While we lost three outstanding players to graduation, I am excited about the potential of this year’s team,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry. “We have a good nucleus of returning players looking to defend our D1 state championship.”
LOWELL, Mass. – It is a long trip from Taunton up to Martin Field in Lowell through late afternoon traffic, but the Tigers apparently arrived on their coach bus ready to go for Tuesday night’s state semifinal.
Taunton scored six runs in the opening two innings, Kelsey White had a perfect game into the fifth and allowed only five hits, and the Tigers ended an 11-year wait to get back to the state championship game with a 6-1 win over North champion Newton North.
“It doesn’t even feel real,” said junior Jaime Brown, a four-year starter for the Tigers, about having the chance to play for a state championship. “We’ve worked so hard and it’s just falling at our feet. It’s crazy, but it just feels so good.”
White was masterful in the circle again for Taunton. Just a freshman, experiencing the postseason stage for the first time, White has not been awed by the moment and she retired the first 12 batters that she faced on Tuesday before Mia Bueno singled to lead-off the fifth.
“She pitches real tough,” Taunton coach Dave Lewry said of White. “She had everything going today, all her pitches, she was hitting her spots. I know they can hit, I know they can put the ball in play, but I’ve got to give all the credit to Kelsey. She just did a fabulous job for us.”
White admitted, “I was very nervous at first but going out there and knowing that I have the best defense behind me makes me more comfortable.” She also got help from Brown and the other upperclassmen. She said, “They pick me up every time I get down and make sure I go and get the next batter.”
Taunton helped out its freshman pitcher with some early runs. The Tigers have been strong with two outs in the postseason and they managed to rally again in the first. Kya Enos lined a single through the hole on the left side for a two-out baserunner. The senior catcher stole second and then came around to score the opening run on a base hit by classmate Mackenzie Handrahan.
The Tigers broke the game wide open in the second. This time they did not wait until there were two outs to get started, instead scoring six times before committing one.
Kelsey White was hit by a pitch to lead off and her older sister Alexa White followed by drawing a nine-pitch walk. Paige Silvia dropped down a bunt and White hustled into third to beat the throw and load the bases. The hero from the South final, sophomore Rylie Murphy, brought in the first run with a grounder to the left side, reaching on a fielder’s choice to keep the bases full.
Brown, Taunton’s lead-off hitter, emptied the bases, drilling a pitch into the gap in left-center for a triple that scored three. The throw to third bounced off Brown and to the fence in front of the Tigers’ dugout, allowing her to come home too.
“That’s always across you mind, you want the big hit, but honestly I was just looking for a single to bring a run in and chip away and getting them all in was just a bonus,” said Brown.
Lewry added, “That puts a lot of pressure on the other team. They can’t play for one run, they’ve got to be swinging the bats and I don’t think that’s their game. They like to bunt and run and get runs here or there. That was a key for us.”
The Tigers also threatened in the third and seemed to have Newton North on the ropes. Alexa White singled to start the inning and moved into scoring position on a Silvia sac bunt. Murphy singled to left to put two on and was pinch-run for by Abbie McDonough, who promptly stole second.
Newton North pitcher Mia Patriacca got Brown and Liana Duarte looking to escape the jam. Taunton did not put another batter on base, as Patriacca retired the final 11 hitters she faced.
“We kind of deflated after that and never got back to hitting the ball,” Lewry explained. “I think that kind of took our momentum away from us. They let up a little with a six-run lead, but we did what we had to do.”
Newton North finally got something going in the fifth. Bueno singled to left to start the inning, the first baserunner of the night for the North champs. Kira Flegenheimer followed with a single but was forced at second on a grounder to Hanna Aldrich. With runners at the corners, Ciara Gillen hit a weak fly ball into shallow right field that dropped just in front of McDonough and allowed the run to score.
White needed to bear down, as momentum seemed to be shifting to the suddenly loud visiting side. She got a grounder to second and then a strikeout to end the inning and preserve a five-run lead.
“They got runners on base,” White said, “but I knew we just had to get the outs and not worry about them. We just needed to get all the outs that we could.”
“Is she only a freshman?” Lewry joked. “She doesn’t act like it, I’ll tell you that. She is the calmest, coolest, most collected person on the mound that we’ve had in a long, long time. She didn’t fall apart at all, she stuck with it, threw her pitches and got us out of it.”
The visitors got a one-out hit in the sixth, but Brown made a nice play on the run to field a short grounder down the third base line and White showed her ability to field her position as she managed to move to her left to snag a tricky grounder.
In the seventh, Newton North again got a one-out hit to put the pressure on Taunton, but White induced a grounder to her sister at second to force the lead runner and then struck out the final batter looking to set off another raucous celebration.
“It’s the best experience,” said White. “It’s very nerve-wracking, but it’s the best experience. I’m very happy for [the seniors] and all I want it for is them and the team.”
Lewry was asked if he was surprised at all to see the Tigers in this position of playing for a state championship. He replied, “I envisioned this team being capable of being in this position, so I’m not surprised by it. It’s not an easy road, of course, but there’s a lot of talent here and I think the heart has shown through. Especially in the tournament, they’re in it for each other and that really makes a huge difference.”
Taunton (25-2) will face the Central champ Wachusett in the state title game at Worcester State on Saturday at 6:00. Wachusett (much like Newton North in the semifinal) was also at this stage last year and lost to Milford in the championship game.
TAUNTON, Mass. – In the bottom of the sixth inning, Taunton put together a rally to try and regain the lead against King Philip (21-4) in Friday night’s Div. 1 South final at Jack Tripp Field. The first two batters reached and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt. An intentional walk loaded the bases for No. 9 hitter Rylie Murphy.
The sophomore made her first start of the playoffs, after playing a handful of games and getting fewer than 20 at-bats on varsity in the regular season, and was now up in the biggest moment of the spring against the team’s biggest rival. Taunton coach Dave Lewry admitted that adding Murphy to the lineup was a “hunch.”
Murphy battled to a 3-2 count against KP starter Elise Pereira, who was only a strike away from escaping the jam, before turning on a pitch and smacking a grounder down the third base line. KP third baseman Jess Bonner dove but the ball hit a mound of dirt in front of her, took a huge hop, and bounced into shallow left field, bringing in the game-winning runs.
“It’s like what you have in dreams, two outs, 3-2 count, bottom of the sixth inning and you just hit it and you don’t even know where it goes and all of a sudden your coach is screaming, jumping up and down and you’re so excited,” said Murphy after Taunton’s 4-2 victory, which earned the program’s first South title since 2007.
Lewry was all smiles as he talked about Murphy and the contributions she has made to the team off the field all season. He said, “A kid who sits the bench all year, cheering for everybody, and comes into this game and gets the winning hit, unbelievable.”
He added, “She’s a kid that puts the bat on the ball all the time. You’ve got to put the bat on the ball to get hits. If you swing and miss or take a called third then you’re not going to get anything.”
The Warriors were far from finished. In the top of the seventh, Bonner ripped a hard line drive to third but Jaime Brown knocked it down and made the play for the first out. Brooke Taute and Brianna Lacy were both hit by pitches from freshman Kelsey White to bring the go-ahead run to the plate.
“Probably the most nervous she got all year was hitting two batters in the last inning,” said Lewry of White. He gathered the team in the circle to settle everyone down. “That’s one of her traits, she’s just so composed,” he added. “She’s amazing, I love her demeanor out there on the mound.”
White got a pop-up in foul ground and a soft liner that shortstop Hanna Aldrich made a nice running catch on to end the game. It meant the Tigers won the season series with KP, after splitting two games in the regular season (and losing the Kelley-Rex title to the Warriors) and fulfilled a mission for the team’s three seniors and for Brown, who was an eighth grader when Taunton made the final in 2015 but lost to Silver Lake.
“Since my eighth grade year, being here and losing, we’ve been working for this for so long,” Brown explained. “It gave you that pit in the bottom of your stomach. There was no other option; we knew we were winning today.”
Taunton took the lead for the first time in the second inning. Kelsey White lined a one-out single to left and her sister Alexa, a junior second baseman, drilled a double down the leftfield line to bring in the game’s first run.
As expected in a rivalry that is fast becoming one of the best in the state, one run was not going to be enough. KP battled back in the top of the fourth to jump in front.
Hailey McCasland led-off with a walk and moved to second on a groundout. Faith Turinese singled to right but the runner had to hold at third. After Turinese stole second, KP coach Norm Beauchemin called for a Pereira squeeze bunt, but Kelsey White fielded her position well to scoop the ball to catcher Kya Enos for the second out.
The Tigers nearly got out of the inning unscathed, but Aldrich bobbled a Bonner grounder to extend the inning and bring in the tying run. Taute followed that by crushing a ball to dead center that was inches from being gone. Instead it was an RBI-double to put KP up 2-1.
“We didn’t beat ourselves tonight and that’s what I’m proud of,” said Beauchemin of the Warriors battling back. “We know we’re going to have a tough game and they expect a tough game on their end as well.”
Taunton almost came right back to tie it after Handrahan started the bottom of the fourth with a double, but she was stranded. In the fifth, the Tigers did even the score. Paige Silvia lined a double to left center and moved to third on a sac bunt by Murphy. Brown grounded a ball to KP shortstop Meghan Gorman, who was playing deep enough to allow the run to score.
“I don’t think we’ve ever been more confident in this team in years. Even when we were down, we knew we could pick it up,” said Brown. When asked about the contributions from the bottom of the order, she added, “We’ve been working on it all season and trying to get that whole lineup going and it’s a perfect timing for all of it to come together.”
In the sixth inning, Handrahan again got things started with a single off the glove of Bonner, who was at full stretch going to her left. Aldrich lined a ball off the leg of Pereira and into no-man’s land in front of second base. Kelsey White’s sac bunt moved the runners into scoring position and Beauchemin called for an intentional walk of Alexa White to give KP a force at the plate.
It worked on the next hitter, as Silvia’s grounder to Bonner turned into the second out when the third baseman gunned down the lead runner. Murphy came up next and with the pressure on, she delivered the hit that decided the South title.
“It wasn’t only the lucky break,” said Beauchemin, “they earned the first two runs and of course they got a lucky break, but such is life. I thought it was two evenly-matched teams coming into this game.”
Lewry said, “It took kind of a bad-hop ground ball to make the difference, but we’ll take it all the time. These kids don’t quit. They’ve got a lot of guts and they hung in there and found a way to come back and do the job.”
Murphy tried to reflect on what was going through her mind as she stepped up to the plate in the decisive moment, knowing that this was a chance to not only win the game, but also to give the upperclassman the title that they have been craving since their last final appearance four years ago.
“It’s so overwhelming,” she said. “I’m just so glad that I got to be to be able to be in the game and be around to hit the ball. I just feel so amazing to win.
“I’ve never wanted to win this for them and for everybody so badly in my entire life.”
Taunton (24-2) will face the winner of Methuen and Newton North in the state semifinal on Tuesday night at Martin Field in Lowell.
By Cameron Merritt, HockomockSports.com Contributor
TAUNTON, Mass.- The No. 2 seed Taunton Tigers took an early lead against Bishop Feehan Wednesday night at Jack Tripp Field and didn’t look back as they beat the visiting No. 4 seed Shamrocks 9-1 to advance to the Div. 1 South final.
“It feels great,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry. “It’s been a while since we’ve been [to the South final] and we’re just taking it one game at a time. We treat every game as if it’s the championship.”
On the mound, Taunton freshman starter Kelsey White put up a strong performance, surrendering just one run and six hits, while striking out two in a complete game win.
For Feehan, the loss went to senior Shauna Hamill, who gave up 14 hits, nine runs (six earned) and two walks while striking out two in a complete game performance.
At the plate, the Tigers saw several strong contributions, starting from the leadoff spot. Junior third baseman Jaime Brown went 3-for-3 with three runs and an RBI on two singles, a double and a walk. Senior catcher Kya Enos also impressed at the plate, going 1-for-2 with a pair of both runs and RBI.
For the Shamrocks, the offense was lead by sophomore catcher Gabrielle Comeau, who went 2-for-3 scoring the team’s only run of the evening.
The Tigers wasted little time in getting on the board as a leadoff double by Brown in the bottom of the first put a runner on for the hosts, who would come home off a sacrifice bunt by Enos to make it 1-0.
“That was huge,” Lewry said of the run. “We went suicide squeeze on that. I like to get the first run, I like to put the other team behind and make them push a little bit.”
The Shamrocks would push a little in the top of the second, as a leadoff single up the middle by Comeau turned into the tying run three at-bats later as a simple short hit to shallow left by sophomore designated player Hannah Ramer brought in Comeau from third and quickly drew the action back even.
However, things wouldn’t stay even for long.
The Tigers struck back in the bottom half of the inning, as a single by junior second baseman Alexa White became the go-ahead run off of a base-clearing triple from sophomore first baseman Paige Silvia. Silvia was brought in two at-bats later as a single to left by Brown allowed her to score and make it 3–1 in favor of the home team.
The middle innings were fairly quiet for both offenses, as both pitchers settled in to their grooves, particularly Kelsey White, who went three straight innings with three straight outs.
“She’s incredible,” Lewry said of White. “I’ve grown out of superlatives for her, she is just an incredible pitcher for a ninth grader, for any grade. She throws the spots, she’s got nice stuff, she throws hard and she does not get rattled out there.”
The Taunton offense roared back to life in the bottom of the fifth, as walks to Brown and Enos to start the inning gave the hosts a good scoring chance, but they quickly found themselves down two outs. A shallow infield pop up by freshman shortstop Hanna Aldrich looked likely to end the inning, but the ball bounced off Hamill’s glove, allowing Aldrich to load the bases and Kelsey White to clear them with a deep double just an at-bat later, doubling the Tigers’ lead to 6-1.
Three more runs would follow as the Tigers batted around in the bottom of the sixth. Six straight singles put Taunton in control, with Enos scoring Brown, senior outfielder Mackenzie Handrahan scoring Liana Duarte and Aldrich scoring Enos respectively, making it 9-1.
Comeau lead off the top of the seventh for Feehan with a single, but a comeback wasn’t meant to be for the Shamrocks, as two fielder’s choices and a fly out to right would end both their chances and their season.
Three games now separate the Tigers from a D1 state title, and for players like Handrahan, their desire for the trophy grows stronger every day.
“We’ve never wanted something so much for each other,” said Handrahan. “We’re just so close, this team’s so close… and we have ‘it,’ so we have to bring ‘it.’”
The Tigers will look to bring it on Friday when they face a familiar foe in the South final – Kelley-Rex rival King Philip.
“King Philip’s a great team,” said Lewry. “We had two outstanding games with them this year, both of them one run games, and I expect another one like that.”
“This game is really big to us,” said Handrahan. “We want to win so bad”
Taunton (23-2) and King Philip (21-3) will face off Friday at 7 p.m. at Taunton High School’s Jack Tripp Field.
Stoughton, 9 @ Canton, 6 – Final – Stoughton scored four runs in the sixth inning to overcome a one-run deficit and take a lead that it never relinquished. Jordan Lyons (3-for-5) had an RBI single to tie it 5-5 and Gina Carafa (4-for-4, two doubles, five RBI) followed with a three-run double. Freshman Nicole Baker added an RBI double in the ninth to add an insurance run. The Black Knights took a 2-0 lead behind four straight hits in the first inning. Stoughton made it 4-0 in the third behind a triple from Lyons and a double from Carafa. Canton plated four runs in the fourth to tie it and took a lead with a single run in the fifth.
Taunton, 6 @ Dighton-Rehoboth, 3 – Final – Kelsey White pitched a masterful game allowing just three unearned runs on five hits, no walks, and five strikeouts. The freshman helped the Tigers overcome some uncharacteristic miscues on defense with her pitching and also made two key defensive plays. Alexa White also made a big defensive play at second, as did Mackenzie Handrahan in left field. Taunton put up two runs in the second when Hanna Aldrich scored on a wild pitch and Paige Silvia scored on an RBI single from Kelsey White. Taunton tacked on four more runs in the fourth highlighted by suicide squeezes from Aldrich and Liana Duarte.
King Philip, 9 @ North Attleboro, 11 – Final
Milford, 0 @ King Philip, 5 – Final – King Philip ended the regular season with a win over Milford. Neither Marco DiStefano nor Nick Putney lost a single game at first and second singles, respectively. Sean Desroches picked up a 6-3, 6-0 win at third singles. The team of Nate Ihley and Aidan Ignatius notched a 6-0, 6-0 win at first doubles while Nich Ihley and Riley Outlaw prevailed 6-0, 6-1 at second doubles.
Mansfield, 3 @ Westwood, 2 – Final – Juniors Luke Nickerson and Luke Devine picked up wins in singles action while Jalaj Singh and Sethu Odayappan capped their regular season with another win to help the Hornets edge Westwood. Nickerson won 6-1, 6-1 at first singles, Devine prevailed 6-0, 6-1 at third singles, and the first doubles pairing won 6-1, 6-2.
Foxboro, 0 @ Coyle & Cassidy, 4 – Final – Foxboro’s Steve McLaughlin allowed just two runs on four hits and two walks in 4.1 innings of work but the Warriors’ offense was limited to just two hits. McLaughlin struck out four but Coyle struck for a run in the second and then another in the fifth. Coyle tacked on two more in the sixth inning. Joe Freitas and Joe Cavaleri each went 1-for-3 for Foxboro.
Mansfield, 2 @ Xaverian, 0 – Final – Mansfield’s Kevin Dow and Kyle Moran combined for a two-hit shutout to lead the Hornets to a big win on the road at Xaverian. Dow allowed just two hits, walking three, and struck out six in five innings of work while Moran fanned three batters in two innings of relief. Offensively, the Hornets loaded the bases in the fourth and senior Mike Arnold drew a walk to score Mike Hargadon. Hargadon (2-for-4) then gave Mansfield breathing room, knocking in Dan Saraceno with a single in the top of the seventh.
Milford, 0 @ Franklin, 4 – Final – Franklin senior James Leofanti dazzled in his season debut on the mound, throwing a no-hitter to lead the Panthers to a win over visiting Milford. Leofanti struck out eight while allowing just two walks to earn the win. Senior Colby Fitzgibbons made a terrific diving play in the sixth inning at second to help preserve the no-hitter. Offensively, Franklin scored two runs in the bottom of the first and added two more in the fifth inning. Junior Alex Haba went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored, Scott Elliott walked twice and scored once, and JB Flores went 1-for-2 with two RBI. Milford sophomore Colby Pires kept the Panthers without a hit for four innings. He finished with three hits allowed, three earned runs, two strikeouts, and eight walks.
King Philip, 1 vs. Wellesley, 7 – Final
Oliver Ames, 5 @ New Bedford,0 – Final – Oliver Ames senior Chris Perron threw six scoreless innings with just one hit allowed as the Tigers picked up their first win of the season on the road at New Bedford. Perron allowed just one walk as well while striking out five to earn the win. Junior Matt McCormack went 2-for-4 with two runs scored while classmate Chris Pearsons was 2-for-3 with a run scored for OA.
Foxboro, 16 @ Westwood, 5 – Final – Foxboro senior Lexi Buckner drove in five runs as the Warriors’ offense continued its strong start to the season. Foxboro posted double-digit runs for the season straight game as Buckner and Hannah Davis (two RBI) each recorded two hits. Emma Rohan earned the win in the circle for Foxboro.
King Philip, 4 vs. Newton North, 8 – Final – King Philip put together a rally in the seventh inning, scoring one run and loading the bases but fell just short against highly ranked Newton North. Marjorie Guerrier and Brooke Taute paced KP’s offense with two hits apiece.
Mansfield, 6 vs. Holliston, 3 – Final – Sarah Cahill got the win, going the distance in the circle and scattering nine hits while striking out a pair of Panthers and walking none. The Hornets took the lead in the top of the first with three runs on four straight singles by Kara Bendanillo, Megan Letendre, Mady Bendanillo, and Felicity McMullin and never looked back. Mansfield had 10 hits total with both Bendanillo sisters and Letendre each recording a pair of hits. The Hornets also played solid defense with Kerran Holmes throwing a runner out at the plate after a fly ball and Kara Bendanillo turning an unassisted double play after a grounder to short.
Milford, 8 @ Grafton, 1 – Final – Milford allowed a run in the first inning of the game but took the lead for good with a five-run fifth inning to move to 3-0 on the season. Grafton, the defending D2 State Champions, scored after using a double and three Milford errors. Kelley Reichert (6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 7 K) buckled down and struck out the side to escape further damage. Reichert (RBI), Emily Piergustavo (double, run, RBI), Shannon Cormier (two doubles, two runs, RBI, stolen base), and Maddy Bonvino (home run, two RBI) each went 2-for-4 on the day for Milford.
Oliver Ames, 1 vs. Walpole, 13 – Final – Katie Abreu had two hits on the day, including a double, while Katie Millis and Caroline Mahoney (RBI double) each had one hit but the Tigers fell to visiting Walpole.
Taunton, 15 @ New Bedford, 0 – Final (5 inn.) – Sisters Kelsey and Alexa White combined for a one-hit shutout as Taunton picked up a win on the road at New Bedford. Kelsey White went three innings with two strikeouts and one hit while Alexa White struck out three in two innings. Offensively, Payton Ceglarski was 4-for-4 with two RBI and Kya Enos had three hits, including a home run, and seven RBI to pace the Tigers. Mackenzie Handrahan, Liana Duarte (RBI), Hannah Aldrich (two stolen bases) and Kelsey White (RBI, stolen base) all had two hits for Taunton while Paige Silvia launched a two-run home run.
King Philip, 5 @ North Attleboro, 12 – Final
Oliver Ames, 12 vs. Pembroke, 11 – Final (OT) – Oliver Ames overcame a five-goal deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the game and send it to overtime. Owen Gallagher (four goals and two assists) scored the game-winner in the extra period to lift the Tigers to a win. Eric LeBlanc, who recorded his 100th career point, added four goals and one assist and Shane Kilkelly and Sam Stevens each added two goals and one assist. OA head coach Ben Devlin noted that Shane Murphy had a very strong game defensively for the Tigers.
Taunton, 0 @ New Bedford, 9 – Final
Attleboro, 11 @ Milford, 7 – Final
Foxboro, 3 @ Notre Dame Academy, 17 – Final
Franklin, 8 @ Westwood, 13 – Final
King Philip, 13 vs. Framingham, 10 – Final – KP continued its unbeaten start to the season with a non-league win. Katie Crowther led the way again with five goals and an assist and Caroline Watson made 10 saves in the victory. Caroline Klim had a hat trick, while Jess Sullivan and Mackenzie Mazur each scored twice. Dana Truini chipped in with a goal and seven draw controls for the Warriors.
North Attleboro, 5 @ Walpole, 16 – Final
Oliver Ames, 12 @ Pembroke, 15 – Final
Sharon, 7 vs. Natick, 14 – Final – Emma Eberhardt led the way for the Eagles with four goals and four draw controls, while Sabrina Robbins added three goals and five draw controls. Sharon coach Shara Ginthwaine said, “We are looking ahead and will continue working hard to find our rhythm and to make everyone a threat on the field.”
North Attleboro @ King Philip – Postponed to a date and time to be announced.
Milford @ Medway, 3:30
Taunton, 3 @ Quincy, 0 – Final – Taunton continued its strong start with a 3-0 sweep (25-17, 25-21, 25-18) on the road at Quincy. Lens Esquil landed 14 kills and added two blocks, Lance Law added 12 kills, a block, and an ace and Mile Charles finished with eight kills and two kills. Ricardo DaFonseca set the offense in motion with 45 assists, three kills, and an ance.