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BHS Softball Squad Blanks Case for Sectional Title

Jun 27, 2014 05:11PM ● By Kenneth Hamwey

Pitcher Megan Cook, left, and designated-player Meghan Cook were instrumental in Bellingham's softball victory against Norton in the first playoff game.

Bellingham’s 1-0 shutout over Case High of Swansea gave the Blackhawks’ softball team a Sectional championship, the second in the program’s history, but it also elevated coach Dennis Baker’s squad into new territory — the 2014 edition now has won more games than any other softball team in school history.
The 2010 contingent, which won the school’s first Sectional crown, finished with a 22-3 record. The current squad was 23-1 after the Sectional tourney and still had two more games on tap in the state tourney.
The one-run triumph over Case at Taunton High School was whisker-thin, and the way the run scored was the subject of much post-game chatter. Pitcher Megan Cook doubled and later scored on freshman Kayse Baker’s single to right-centerfield. Cook ran hard but appeared to be out at the plate by three feet. The umpire, however, ruled her safe when she stopped abruptly, then slid under the catcher’s tag. None of the opposing coaches argued the call, and some observers close to the action claim the ball was dropped.
“I was just thinking about getting to the plate,’’ Cook said. “Their catcher had the ball waiting, and I thought about a hook slide. I just slid hard and it seemed like I got under the tag. The umpire called me safe and that’s what I’m going with.’’
Cook, who pitched and won all four of the games in the Sectional tourney and had four no-hitters along the way, struck out seven and walked two. After she scored the go-ahead run, she settled down and retired the final 11 batters. “It was nice keeping runners off base,’’ she said. “I was just trying to hit my spots. The tourney is a time when you can’t take a pitch off.’’
 Baker’s RBI single was all the offense Bellingham needed, and the frosh right fielder was smiling widely during the post-game celebration. “It’s great to play a role,’’ she said, “and I’m glad I could contribute as a freshman. I was nervous as I was heading to second base on the throw to the plate, but I was confident Megan could score.’’
Left fielder Taylor MacGowan, whose outstanding play has gone under the radar for most of the season, said, “It’s nice to be a Sectional champ, but we’ve got more work to do in the State playoffs. We’ve been supportive of each other all year, and our play has been a great team effort.’’
Assistant Coach Kevin Ranieri and Assistant Athletic Director Kevin Grupposo offered their thoughts. “I felt confident once we got the 1-0 lead,’’ Ranieri said. “Megan became a different pitcher once she scored. She got better as the game moved on. She’s a great competitor.’’
Grupposo called the title “a testament to the athletes and coaches at Bellingham,’’ labeling the spring as “the spring of all springs.’’ (Earlier in the season, Bellingham won another Sectional title in baseball, and the boys track team went unbeaten and was Tri Valley League champ.)
Shortstop Chloe Woodward on the triumph: “We have our moments, but we bond and come together at key times. We’re like a family. I’m on top of the world with this championship.’’
Head coach Dennis Baker said he’s glad his team is providing three key elements — pitching, defense and timely hitting. “When you get this deep into tournament play, you need those three elements. They get you to the next level.’’
Catcher Rachel Kuhlman, a vocal captain all year, provided a philosophical view of the night of June 9 in Taunton: “It’s nice to win this for the school, our parents and ourselves, but what’s important as we go forward into the state tourney is to have fun and keep playing like little kids.’’
Following is the journey the Blackhawks took to the Sectional title:
The Blackhawks entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed after compiling a 19-1 record during the regular season that included co-championship honors with Hopkinton in the Tri Valley League. Senior pitcher Megan Cook struck out 10 and recorded her 15th victory of the season in the complete-game triumph. A three-run third inning was all Bellingham needed as the Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead when sophomore designated-hitter Meghan Cook doubled in two runs and senior catcher Rachel Kuhlman later doubled, driving in the winning run to defeat 17th-seeded Norton. “It’s always difficult to beat a team three times in one season,’’ Baker said. “Norton gave us a tough time, but we got two key hits from Meghan and Rachel that sparked us. We also got another solid effort from Megan on the mound.’’
Megan Cook struck out seven and yielded only four hits in Bellingham’s quarterfinal victory over ninth-seeded Fairhaven. Cook, who won her 16th game this season, also doubled and had two RBIs. Taylor MacGowan had an RBI double, and junior Chloe Woodward smacked a two-run homer. Alice Felzmann went 2-for-2 and scored a run. All of Bellingham’s runs came in the first inning. “It was great to have an explosive first inning,’’ Baker said. “We got key hits from Megan, Taylor and Chloe. At this time in the tourney, you face all good teams. Fairhaven hit the ball, and we made the plays and that’s because our defense was superb.’’
Megan Cook pitched a no-hitter, leading Bellingham into the Division 2 South Sectional final, where it faced Case High of Swansea. Cook also scored the Blackhawks’ first run in the fourth inning after doubling, stealing third and scoring on a wild pitch. Pinch hitter Julia Caddell drove in Bellingham’s second run, also coming in the fourth inning, on a sacrifice fly, scoring Chloe Woodward. Sophomore Elaina Chambers gave the Blackhawks plenty of insurance when she belted a three-run home run in the sixth inning. Kayse Baker and Julianne Kilduff both singled and scored on Chambers’ 200-foot home run. “Megan is peaking at the right time and she’s got confidence,’’ Baker said. “She tired in the final inning, but she still had enough in the tank. We played a complete game and we were strong on defense. The bottom of our order is producing and that’s a big plus.’’

written by Ken Hamwey,
Bulletin Sports Editor





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