Taunton Ends KP Softball Team’s Tournament Run

Ken Hamwey Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
July, 2018
Article Body: 

Norm Beauchemin knew long before his King Philip softball team faced Taunton in the title game of the Division 1 South Sectional Tournament that the Tigers likely would be the Warriors’ primary roadblock as KP strived to qualify for its second State tourney appearance in three years.
The 68-year-old Beauchemin, who led the Warriors to a State championship in 2016, was well aware of Taunton’s talent and ability when pre-season practice began in March, and he also knew when the tourney brackets were released in June that the Tigers and his Warriors probably would be on a collision course.
In March, Beauchemin said: “Taunton has a great feeder system and their tradition is solid. When we won the State title two years ago, they won the Hockomock League’s Kelly-Rex Division crown.’’ And, after viewing the brackets for this year’s Sectional playoffs, Beauchemin saw Tiger stripes. “When the draw came out, I felt the last two teams standing would be KP and Taunton. We knew if we advanced to the final, they likely would be our opposition.’’
Playing on their home field in the final, Taunton defeated KP, 4-2, getting two runs in the sixth inning to break a 2-2 tie and send the Tigers onto the State playoffs. With two outs, the bases full, and the count 3-2, Rylie Murphy connected for a bad-hop single over the third baseman for the deciding runs.
“I’m not taking anything away from Taunton,’’ Beauchemin said. “They’re a competitive, athletic and well-coached team. But, Murphy hit a routine ground ball that took a bad hop. I don’t know what it was but the ball hit something.’’
KP’s season ended with a 21-4 record and Taunton moved on with a 23-2 mark. Beauchemin, who’s coached the KP girls for six years, called the loss “disappointing and devastating, especially for our nine seniors.’’ He firmly believed his contingent had lots of strengths and the talent to contend for another State title.
“This year’s squad was the best defensive team I’ve had in my six years at KP,’’ Beauchemin emphasized. “And, it was a fun group to coach. They practiced hard every day and they provided me with two great hours every day, whether it was in games or practice. We had a complete team that was strong 1-9 in the lineup. We had experienced players who had a high softball IQ, were determined and fast on the bases. It’s just sad that our season ended a week early.’’
Beauchemin lauded his entire squad but he got specific when discussing players who exceeded expectations and matured as top-notch competitors. He mentioned right-fielder Nicole Carter, left-fielder/pitcher Faith Turinese, Jess Bonner at third and pitcher Elise Pereira. Carter had a .333 batting average and got her share of clutch hits. Turinese started for the first time in the lineup, hit .405 and also posted a 5-0 record as the Warriors’ back-up pitcher. Bonner hit .403 and Pereira went 16-4 and had an earned-run average of 2.36.
“Nicole hit in the clutch and her fielding was solid,’’ Beauchemin said. “Faith had never played in the outfield but she was solid in left. She also had an E.R.A. of 0.60. Jess hit .280 last year but hiked her average to .403. She also committed only five errors in 63 chances. Elise had a stretch of yielding only 22 earned runs in 17 games.’’
The Warriors, who finished the regular season with an 18-3 record and were crowned Kelly-Rex Division champs, advanced to the Sectional final by downing Hopkinton, 8-1; Somerset-Berkley, 4-1; and Braintree, 9-3.
Against Hopkinton, Meghan Gorman drove in two runs, Sydney Phillips and Brooke Taute each had one RBI and Pereira struck out seven and allowed only four hits. Pereira again shined against Somerset-Berkley, striking out six and giving up only one run. Hailey McCasland went 2-for-3 and scored a run while Taute also was 2-for-3 and scored once. Phillips, Gorman and Bonner all had an RBI. A six-run fourth inning clinched the win over Braintree. Brianna Lacy and Gorman had two RBIs and Phillips and McCasland each had one.
Beauchemin pointed to some dynamic statistics that highlighted a tremendous season. “This team scored the most runs (244) in my six years at KP and our team batting average was .372,’’ he emphasized. “The 2018 team had lots of strengths and no weaknesses.’’
Losing nine seniors may cause KP fans to use the “rebuilding’’ word but Beauchemin says “we reload at KP, we don’t rebuild.’’ As for his return for a seventh season, he says: “As long as there’s enjoyment and fun, I plan on returning. It’ll be time to retire when I know the girls aren’t having fun.’’
In spite of the hurt and dejection of bowing to Taunton, the KP girls showed their resiliency and passion for their sport when the team bus was halfway back to Wrentham. “At the moment of defeat, there’s a lot of emotion that comes out,’’ Beauchemin noted. “There’s heartache and crying. But, I heard some laughter and some joking when our bus was halfway home.’’
The 2018 edition of KP’s softball team was talented, top-notch and terrific. They didn’t win Sectional or State titles but they were champions in other ways — definitely dynamic representatives of the three communities that comprise the KP school district.