TAUNTON — The senior big three of Hanna Aldrich, McKenzie McAloon, and Kelsey White have powered the Taunton softball all season so it was only fitting that the Division 1 state final was decided by the trio.
In a continuation of last Wednesday’s game that was suspended after five innings because of lightning and rain, the Tigers needed just 24 minutes to grab the program’s sixth state championship with a 1-0 win over Wachusett at Jack Tripp Field Monday night, capping a 20-0 season.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Aldrich — the program’s single-season home run record holder — was down two strikes in the count, but rocked a double to the fence in right-center field.
“Especially when I had two strikes, I just had to focus in and make sure I had solid contact whether it be an out or a hit,” said Aldrich.
Next up was McAloon who shot a grounder up the middle that scored Aldrich from second.
“I just wanted to get up there and get a hit for my team and pull through for them. I’m just so happy I was able to put the ball in play and make something happen. Hanna’s wheels were able to come around,” said McAloon.
“I can’t think of a better kid,” said Taunton coach Carrie Consalvi.
“[McAloon] is the total package as far as leadership, being good with the younger kids and what she does behind the plate is so underrated, she’s a magician back there and she definitely has the ability to do that.”
White (13 strikeouts) handled the rest from there. A flyout retired the Mountaineers’ clean-up hitter, Riley Quirk, and two strikeouts including an empathic three-pitch K on the final batter sealed it.
“All the confidence in the world goes to her,” said Aldrich. “She’s so good at what she does and I’m just glad that she does her thing and we do our thing and it all works out perfectly.”
All three players will be playing Division 1 softball in college next year. White will be attending Villanova, Aldrich is heading to Lehigh University, and McAloon will be playing at Bryant.
The game was moved three times — once to Thursday then to Friday and then finally to Monday — but after throwing five complete games in seven days, the break was a respite for White.
“Those five days really helped me pitching wise to really relax and stay focused,” said White.
The Tigers practiced every day except for Saturday to stay sharp for Monday’s continuation. They turned up the speed on the pitching machine to adjust to Quirk’s velocity and even went up on the baseball team’s turf field to work on ground balls.
“Great team, great pitcher,” said White of Wachusett. “She really made us compete for every single pitch but we strung those hits together and I knew that Hanna and Kenz were going to pull through.”
Quirk allowed just five hits and struck out 11
“She’s been great. She’s only a junior. She’s going to bring us back here next year and we’re going to take this thing next year,” said Wachusett coach Jason Lanpher, who has guided the Mountaineers (16-4) to four straight state final appearances.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my team. We fought through some adversity and we came out the other side and we were strong. We played some of our best ball at the right time of year.”