Taunton Explodes in Fifth to Win Slugfest with Panthers

Kelly Reading

Kelly Reading reached base three times against her former team, scored two runs and drove in a pair to help the Tigers come from behind for the second day in a row. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)
By Josh Perry, Managing Editor
TAUNTON, Mass. – The Panthers were in a good position. Two outs in the bottom of the fifth, runners at first and second, and a one-run lead, senior pitcher Sabrina LoMonaco induced a grounder to short. The throw was low and skipped to the fence allowing Taunton to tie the game.
After that things really fell apart.
Taunton would eventually send 14 batters to the plate in the fifth inning and score nine runs, all with two outs. The Tigers turned a one-run deficit into an eight-run lead and then tacked on three more in the sixth to run away with a 17-6 victory over Franklin. It was the second comeback victory over a Kelley-Rex rival in as many days for the Tigers.
“It kind of shows the character on the team,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry, “and hopefully we’re making a statement that that’s the kind of team we’re going to be — that we won’t be beaten until the last out of the seventh inning. That’s what I like to see.”
“Through 4-2/3 it was a great, great game,” said Franklin coach Kate Fallon, “but then the wheels fell off the bus and the rest is history. We didn’t finish. It’s a seven-inning game, not a five-inning game, and we just didn’t finish.”
With a resigned sigh, she said, “We just couldn’t stop the bleeding.”
Franklin took the lead in the top of the fourth, coming back from an early 4-1 deficit. Leadoff hitter  Erin Hanley (3-4) singled to leftfield and drove in Alicia Donovan. After Maddie Connelly walked to load the bases, senior catcher Brie Flaherty (2-4, HR, 2 RBI) singled in Christine Harvey, who had doubled, and tied the game at 5-5. LoMonaco followed with a sacrifice fly for her second RBI and a 6-5 lead for the Panthers.
In the bottom of the fourth, Katie VanZandt led off with a double to left. A failed sac bunt attempt was the first out and former Franklin player Kelly Reading (1-3, 2 BB, 2 runs, 2 RBI) followed with a walk. After eighth grader Jaime Brown (1-2, 3 RBI) flew out, LoMonaco kept the momentum on Franklin’s side by catching Aimee Kistner looking to strand the runners.
LoMonaco seemed to be through the bottom of the fifth as well after a groundout, an error, and then a force. Amber Wainwright (2-3), the seventh hitter, drew a walk to put two on and then VanZandt hit a grounder to Donovan. The senior shortstop chose not to go to second for the force and her throw to first was wild, which allowed Kya Enos to come around with the tying run and kept the inning alive.
The next three hitters would walk, two with the bases loaded driving in runs, before Kistner came up again. The junior power hitter would not be stymied two innings in a row and lined a single to center that plated two runs. She was the ninth hitter of the inning and had the Tigers first base hit of the fifth.
“I like what we’re doing right now in terms of swinging the bats,” said Lewry. “We showed some good discipline at the plate when she was obviously getting tired and missing the plate. We weren’t chasing bad pitches and helping her out.”
Jordan Wade followed with an infield single, Meghan Navarro (2-3, RBI) singled in a run, and Enos got an RBI on a fielder’s choice grounder to third to chase LoMonaco from the game. Caroline D’Aprille stepped into the circle and gave up a two-run single to Wainwright.
In the sixth, Taunton added three more with two outs all off the bats of pinch hitters, including a two-run single by senior Mara Boboruzian.
Fallon said, “As they came off the bench they were thinking , yes everybody else is hitting so I’m going to hit and they already had that momentum. Meanwhile my guys were thinking oh no we’re already down 11.”
Franklin took the lead in the top of the first inning when Flaherty went the other way for s solo homer to right off Kistner. After the game, both coaches praised the catcher who will be playing at UMass Boston next year.
“They’ve got some hitters in that lineup. That Flaherty, man, she crushed that ball,” said Lewry. Fallon added, “She just comes through for us when we need her. She hung in there with her teammates over here the whole time cheering and catching a ridiculous amount of pitches because we couldn’t get out of innings. I’m proud of her.”
Taunton took the lead in the second with four runs. Sophomore catcher Sarah Bagge drove in Navarro with a single, followed by an RBI infield single by Reading that plated Wainwright. Brown came through with a two-run single to center bringing in Bagge and Reading.
Franklin did not give up despite trailing by three early on the road. The Panthers got two back in the third when Connelly hit a double to left that brought Julia Arms home, but a perfect relay from Bailey Clapp to Wade to Bagge got Erin Hanley at the plate. LoMonaco came through with an RBI single that made it 4-3.
“I came to the game yesterday and told to swing, get their hacks in, and if they see a good pitch to go after it,” said Fallon.
Lewry noted, “I like our lineup and I have kids on the bench that can hit. We’re not a “Punch and Judy” team anymore, hopefully, and we can go back to banging the ball.”
Taunton (5-0) plays its third straight game on Thursday against New Bedford. Franklin (2-2) plays on Saturday at North Attleboro.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
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