TAUNTON/KINGSTON – It wasn't the way the Monomoy girls varsity softball team wanted their season to end, but when the dust settled on the field at Taunton High School on June 15, Case had earned a 7-1 victory in spite of the Sharks' tireless efforts in the Div. 3 South Finals.
Struggling with an ankle injury, Monomoy pitcher Mollie Charest continuously shook off the pain in favor of fighting for strikeouts, but Case struck first in the outing, managing to plate a run in the opening inning.
Meanwhile, it took Monomoy until the fifth inning to get past Case hurler Riley Burgess, but they did so courtesy of a stellar hit from Maddie Crossen that allowed a speedy Erica Slade to blaze home, tying the game at 1-1 and giving the Sharks and their fans hope.
Unfortunately for the home team, that hope was short lived as Case capitalized on fielding issues in the next inning, scoring two more runs. The Cardinals put the game away for good in the seventh with three more runs, two of which came on a two-run homer that Monomoy's Erica Slade tried valiantly to snag, but wasn't able to reach.
Stacy Yarnall said that she gave her team high praise during a post-game pep talk.
“I just had a conversation with them about how proud I am that in this post-season battle, this run, no matter the score we didn't let anybody intimidate us,” she said. “This is softball that we really don't see a lot of in our regular season. To step it up and to take it three games in and beat the defending state champs, and to do all this stuff with such a young team, I don't have any words to express how grateful and proud I am to be their coach.”
While Yarnall gave a nod to Charest for her determination on the mound, she said the team's success was a concerted effort.
“Overall the energy of the group, just having them mesh well and the chemistry,” she said. “The whole team plays a part, whether it's my bench or just staying in the game. Everybody did a great job today.”
The Sharks fared much better in the D3 semifinals in which they faced defending state champion Abington, coming away with a 6-3 victory that began with a five-run first inning.
Monomoy went through its entire lineup in the opening frame, battling through with two outs on the scoreboard. Crossen put forth a nice sacrifice bunt and Charest a sac fly to make it 1-0, but the Sharks weren't finished yet. Each of the Cardillo sisters, Mackenzie and Rachel, capitalized on errors and brought in runs, while Courtney Kelley batted into an RBI single and Caroline DiGiovanni swung into a double that allowed Monomoy to take a commanding lead early on.
Abington was poised to pounce in the top of the second, but a huge catch from Mackenzie Cardillo prevented the Green Wave from making it onto the scoreboard. Another fantastic catch, this time a diving save from Julie Slade in the fourth, kept the Abington tally at zero.
It took until the fifth inning for Abington to push a run across, in this case three, narrowing Monomoy's lead to 5-3 as the game's last innings neared. A late RBI single from Kelley added one more to the Sharks' lead, but what became most important were strikeouts.
As Charest continued to hold the Green Wave at bay, she and her teammates began mentally counting down the outs, bursting into celebratory cheers when senior Sam Barr snagged the final ball in her glove, her foot firmly on the base.
Yarnall was elated.
“Wow,” she said. “Just, wow. From start to finish the aggression. From scoring five off in the first inning, being aggressive and swinging, putting bunts down when we needed to, and Mollie was on target today. We didn't let them intimidate us whatsoever with their previous record of being defending state champs. It's amazing. We played a great game today.”
Yarnall was especially proud of her team's composure after Abington narrowed the score in the fifth. She praised Charest's prowess on the mound and her entire batting lineup.
“Mollie did an awesome job on the mound today,” Yarnall said. “Just hitting her pitches and her spots when she needed to. The strike zone was a little smaller than what we were used to. And everyone in the batter's box, from No. 1 to No. 9, really stepped up and was just swinging and contributing. It was really a whole-team effort. It was a great game.”
For the seniors, the win and the success of the season were memorable.
“I'm so excited,” said Barr. “We played a really good game. I'm glad we stayed in it.
Barr said the first inning made all the difference for the team.
“Knowing that the score was so close, and we came in here thinking this team was insane, and we were able to stay in in that first inning for sure,” she said. “Those five runs.”
Rachel Cardillo said making it as far as the 2019 team had was special.
“Being a senior and knowing it's your last year and making it is crazy for us, because we've never been this far, and we did it,” she said. “So it's really just a good feeling.”
She said her team was her main motivation.
“What kept me motivated was playing for my team and keeping my head up,” she said. “Knowing that you just have to give it 100 percent, walking off the field knowing you gave everything.”
Mackenzie Cardillo agreed.
“Making the tournament means everything,” she said.
The Sharks finish the 2019 season with a 21-3 record and are already looking forward to 2020.