TAUNTON, Mass. –- Coyle-Cassidy softball’s hacks in the box against King Philip ace Meghan Rico on Tuesday were at first feeble.
The second time through the order, C-C showed promise. Third time? A little bit better. Fourth time? A little closer still.
The fifth time around, the Warriors wouldn’t need another go-round. That’s when the vaunted C-C offense ended the game in a 3-2 walk-off, extra-innings win.
It all started up top as C-C leadoff hitter Patty Borges reached in each of her five plate appearances, scoring each of the Warriors’ three runs. Meanwhile, cleanup hitter Julie Leclair provided the fireworks, driving in the game-tying run in the seventh and the game-winner in the ninth.
“All three parts of our game – our hitting, our pitching and our defense – came together well,” C-C head coach Russell Hunt said.
KP (5-2) looked poised to run away with it early, scoring runs in both the first and second, thanks to lead-off doubles. Rico started the game with a two-bagger on the first pitch of the game, before scoring on Meg Carnase’s double. In the second, Anna O’Neill doubled to the left-center field fence and scored on an Amy Nolan single.
Rico breezed through 4 2/3 innings without allowing a hit, but that’s when C-C began to catch on.
Borges’ two-out single in the fifth was the first indication of trouble. Genna Whalen promptly plated Borges with a double to right. Borges, a Stony Brook signee, led off the seventh by drawing a walk. After a sacrifice bunt from Whalen, Leclair stepped to the plate.
“The strikeouts [earlier in the game], I didn’t let them bother me," Leclair said. “Everybody had to do their part, so that’s why I just went up there, made contact and hit it.”
Leclair rapped Rico’s 0-2 offering into the outfield, scoring Borges with the tying run.
C-C (7-1) nearly pulled out the victory in the seventh on Katherine Clark’s suicide squeeze bunt. KP first baseman Cayleigh McCarthy caught Tricia Quinn sliding into home, with catcher Olivia Godin blocking the plate, for the second out of the inning.
Both teams were retired in order in the eighth before C-C ended it.
Borges scored her third run of the game after drawing another lead-off walk in the ninth.
And, once again, Leclair delivered.
“You can’t give those kinds of ball teams those kinds of opportunities,” said KP head coach Jim Leonard, whose team committed an uncharacteristic three errors in the field. “I’m not sure if because the layoff because of the rain we weren’t that sharp, but like I said, against good teams, you have to score your runs and then stay tight defensively.”
WALL TO THE LEFT
For all that Borges and Leclair produced with their bat on Tuesday, C-C’s key to victory was undoubtedly its defense.
The Warriors have perhaps the strongest left side of the infield in the state, and Borges had perhaps the game of her career, with 12 assists in the field.
“I think we’re a phenomenal all-around team when we put our minds to it,” Borges said of C-C’s commitment to fielding.
She added, “We work at everything equally as much.”
More than that, the Warriors’ infield was superb on a whole. Quinn made an array of picks and stretches on the first base bag. Second baseman Brittany Perdiago turned in the play of the game in the sixth with a back-handed snare of grounder with a dive and then beat Carnase to the bag with a throw from her knees.
With a strong unit behind her, C-C starter Kelsey Boarman became stronger as the game wore on, retiring nine straight to finish the complete-game win.