End Of The Road For TMHS SoftballJun 11, 2014 11:48PM ● By Rick Spencer
Teagan Trant (7) scores Tewksbury's first run with Anna Sessa (2) not far behind on a two-run single from Kayla VonKahle
TAUNTON -- Getting eliminated from the state tournament is never easy, especially when you get as far as the state semi-finals.
But the Tewksbury High girls softball team suffered a particularly harsh exit from post season play Wednesday night when a controversial, two-out play at home plate turned out to be the defining moment of the game in a 3-2 season-ending loss to Bellingham at Taunton High School.
“It’s tough because the kids busted their rear ends to get here, and it always seems that our season ends on a bad call,” said Tewksbury coach Leo “Doc” DiRocco afterward. “You just feel bad for the kids.”
With the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Bellingham sophomore designated hitter Meghan Cook appeared to have been tagged out by Tewksbury pitcher Shannon McLaughlin on a close play at the plate, but the umpire signaled safe and the Division 2 South Sectional champion Blackhawks had scored the most important run of their impressive 24-1 season.
Bellingham senior pitcher Megan Cook then shut the door on Tewksbury in the sixth and seventh innings, and TMHS’ magical 2014 season came to a crashing halt.
Tewksbury had taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning thanks to the hot bat of freshman first baseman Kayla Von Kahle. After freshman designated hitter Teagan Trant doubled and junior second baseman Anna Sessa singled, Von Kahle laced a single up the middle that knocked in both base runners.
But the Redmen, who left two runners on base and had another thrown out stealing in that same inning, never got a runner past first base after that, and Bellingham made the controversial fifth-inning run stand up.
Bellingham had strung together two hits, a sacrifice bunt and a fielder’s choice to produce two runs and tie the score at 2-2 in the fourth inning.
Bellingham limited TMHS’ senior superstar Brooke Hardy’s production by hitting the Tewksbury shortstop with a pitch in each of her first two at bats. Hardy did get on base three times, adding a single in the seventh, but for the first time in five tournament games, she did not score a run.
McLaughlin, the senior right hander who rang up 18 victories this season and over 40 for her career, had another strong outing, scattering five hits while striking out four and walking three. But the three earned runs she allowed were two more than she had given up in her four previous tournament victories combined.
In spite of the disappointment, DiRocco and his players were able to take solace in the fact that, although this group of girls will not get to play for a state title this weekend, the 2014 THMS softball squad was the first in school history to win a Division 2 North Sectional Championship.
“It was a great season,” said Hardy, who will continue her softball career at Jacksonville University in the fall. “We did something no other (Tewksbury) team has ever done and no one can ever take that away from us. It’s something I’ll always have with me. It’s a season I’ll never forget.”
“It was a fantastic season,” DiRocco agreed. “Our kids worked their butt off every day in practice. The coaches worked their butts off. How can you not be proud of them? We went as far as we ever have, and it was fantastic.”
DiRocco also had some sentimental words for his two departing seniors, Hardy and McLaughlin.
“They both had great years,” DiRocco said. “When you go back and say ‘Hey Doc, who’s you top 10 or 20 players over the past 25 years,?’ it’s probably easy to put those two in it, because without either one of their performances we wouldn’t have been here. They turned it on and they led us.”