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Norfolk/Wrentham - Local Town Pages

Taunton Tops KP, Keeps Softball Dynasty Intact

KP coach Kate Fallon-Comeau was hoping to add the 2024 Division 1 softball championship banner to the Warriors’ three previous ones, but Taunton High had other ideas.

By Ken Hamwey
Staff Sports Writer
Dynasties in any sport at any level are not always easy to start or easy to maintain. At Taunton High, however, their softball teams seem to have found the formula.
The Tigers’ 5-0 victory over King Philip in the Division 1 championship final at UMass-Amherst marked the fourth straight state title for the program and its ninth championship overall. The powerhouse program claimed Division 1 championships in 1997, 2002, 2003, 2007, and 2018. The last four were won from 2021 through 2024. 
“It’s an indescribable feeling,” said Taunton coach Michelle Raposo. “We talk about it all the time, but we didn’t think this could be possible. Going up against KP, we knew that the only way they could beat us was if we beat ourselves. So, we had to play our game.”
The Tigers played like the champions they are and competed like a team that was on a mission to sustain its dynasty. They combined timely hitting with superb pitching and fielding.
Taunton senior Sam Lincoln, who’s committed to play for Texas Tech, threw a complete game shutout. In her final outing as a Tiger, Lincoln, the 2024 Gatorade Mass. Softball Player of the Year, shut out KP for a second time this season. The southpaw pitched all seven innings, giving up four hits and three walks while striking out nine.
The ace of Taunton’s staff, Lincoln also hurled a 14-strikeout, one-hit shutout to defeat second-seeded Central Catholic, 1-0, in the Tigers’ semifinal clash that enabled the Hockomock League champs to advance to the state final. 
“Sam did an unbelievable job of just going out there and commanding her pitches,” said Raposo. “She was just confident and more relaxed out there and she believed in her fielders.”
Third-seeded Taunton ended its season unbeaten at 25-0 and the No. 21 seeded Warriors finished at 17-10.
Facing the Warriors for a third time this spring, Lincoln worked on mixing speeds between her high-powered fastball and effective screwball to keep KP off balance. 
”There’s no other way I wanted to end my high school career,” Lincoln said.
KP coach Kate Fallon-Comeau lauded her Warriors’ grit and perseverance but also credited Taunton for its triumph.
“The better team won today,’’ she said. “They strung together timely hits and got the runs. For us, it was a great season, not the ending we had hoped for but we worked really hard to get there. I’m very proud of this group.’’
Fallon-Comeau again emphasized KP’s grit and perseverance.
“I’ve seen a lot of that from our girls over the past two to three weeks,’’ she said. “They kind of found their identity as a team and part of that is the grit they have. They never give up and they’ve been fighting for everything they want. They’ve worked so hard to be at this level and be on the field with this team in the final. There’s no way any other team in the state worked harder than them to get here.’’ 
The Tigers’ sophomore right fielder, Mia Torres, who went 3-for-4 with a pair of runs and an RBI, helped Taunton go up, 1-0, in the bottom of the third inning. She tripled, then came home on a sacrifice fly to left field by freshman third baseman Bella Bourque (1-for-3, two RBIs).
An inning later, Torres drove in sophomore first baseman Gracie Oliveira (1-for-3, run) with an RBI single before advancing all the way to third on a passed ball as freshman second baseman Madison Crowley came home. Then, Bourque drove in Torres a second time, this time on a single to shallow center to make it 4-0.
The final run came when junior shortstop Brooke Aldrich (1-for-3, run, RBI) clubbed a solo homer over the left-field fence in the bottom of the fifth for her sixth and final home run of the postseason. That’s when Jordan Bennett replaced KP starter McCoy Walsh.
The Warriors had several chances to score but failed in the first two innings. With one out in the first, Ava Kelley singled and moved to third on a wild pitch and a ground out. In the second, KP put a runner on but a double play ended the inning.
“We executed the game plan for the first few innings,’’ Fallon-Comeau said. “The difference was we couldn’t put any numbers on the scoreboard. Lincoln was throwing lots of pitches, we were fouling off a lot and putting balls in play. We just couldn’t push a run across.’’
TOURNEY NOTES: The Tigers moved past Bishop Fenwick for the second most softball titles, now two behind Turners Falls, which has won 11….Torres, who is the daughter of Raposo, has a statistic linked to her mother. They both have back-to-back state title wins. Her mother did it as a player in 2002 and 2003, and again as a coach in her first two seasons. The pair shared the title experience of the past two years together….To advance to the final, KP’s Walsh, who’ll be a junior next season, and senior Taylor Regan played key roles in enabling the Warriors to defeat top-seeded Wachusett, 2-1, in their semifinal matchup. Walsh struck out 14 on three hits without allowing an earned run and walking only four. Regan singled past third base, driving in Kelley with the winning run in the 10th inning….Taunton’s four straight titles have come against Wachusett in 2021, Peabody in 2022, Central Catholic in 2023 and King Philip last month.