TAUNTON, Mass. – They say all good things must come to an end, and make no mistake about it, for the past three seasons the King Philip Warriors softball team has been great. Their performance in the Division I South Final today was no exception, despite a 1-0 loss to Bridgewater-Raynham in a 12-inning affair.
Just yesterday, KP put forth an impressive showcase of offense, defense, and unparalleled pitching en route to grabbing a 13-0 victory over Silver Lake in the South Semifinal. It was a win that seemed almost too easy to come by.
Meanwhile, Bridgewater-Raynham had to grind their way into the final pairing. It took them 12 innings to upend North Attleboro, 4-3, but they got it done. Most of the Warriors squad stuck around after their game to scout both of their potential opponents, so they knew full well when B-R pulled it out that they’d be in for an all out battle with the Trojans.
And "it came as advertised," said King Philip head coach Jim Leonard.
The two-time defending State Champions had struggled offensively in the first two rounds of the tournament, but KP seemed to have gotten through their slump against the Lakers on Saturday. Their bats fell silent again today, though, for which most of the credit belongs to a second stellar performance from B-R senior pitcher Audrey Dolloff, who went the distance for the Trojans in both of their 12-inning games at Jack Tripp Field at Taunton High School this weekend.
After 11 innings of scoreless ball today, something finally gave.
With two outs in the top of the 12th frame, B-R sophomore shortstop Madison Shaw got on base for the first time in the game. Then senior Rachel McCall drew a walk, which put runners on first and second for the Tojans. Both Shaw and McCall took off running when KP ace Meg Rico hurled one towards home. The Warriors’ stalwart catcher senior catcher Olivia Godin fired down to third base in hopes of catching her second runner of the day, but the ball scooted down the line into left field, allowing Shaw to become the first player of the game to cross the plate.
Down 1-0 heading into the bottom of the inning, the top of KP’s lineup came up to bat. With two outs, junior Tori Constantin singled, giving the Warriors hope for a miracle. It wasn’t to be, though, as Godin popped one back towards the mound and for the first time in a long time a team other than King Philip celebrated a Division I South Title.
“We’re a team that typically doesn’t make mistakes and it was a very uncharacteristic mistake,” Leonard said of the circumstances that led to the game’s only run. “But that's why you play 'em. You’d like to see a win on something that’s a real good, clean play. But it is what it is. They played hard, they have nothing to hang their head on.”
For the second time in as many days, Rico recorded a 17-strikeout outing for KP. The difference between the two showings was that the Warriors were able to lend hefty run support against Silver Lake; today Dolloff simply wasn’t as yielding.
“They got runners [on] first and second, first and second, and when you keep doing that eventually it's going to come back and haunt you," said Leonard. "We didn’t get enough base runners today. You go from scoring 13 runs one day to none the next in 12 innings.”
Dolloff racked up 7 K’s over her 12 innings, relying on dizzying off-speed pitches that kept the Warriors off the bases for the better part of the day.
“We came up against an excellent pitcher today," said Leonard of the Trojans ace. "For a lot of third strike changeups, her location was real good. They mixed up locations enough to keep us off balance.”
The magnificent run strung together by KP over the past several seasons – which included back-to-back state titles – was largely made possible by their eight departing seniors, including Rico who’ll head to George Washington in the fall; Meg Carnase, bound for Colgate; Cayleigh McCarthy who’ll attend Stonehill; Hailey Mullen, shipping out to Holy Cross; Amy Nolan who’s off to Curry; Harvard-bound Alyssa Siegmann; Annie Shielber who’ll be at Dominican; and last but certainly not least, UMass-bound Godin.
“Your heart breaks for [Godin],” said Leonard. “She’s been a stalwart for four years. For the mistake to come from there is tough.”