TAUNTON — The “Great Escape Artists”, the “Houdini’s of Holcott Drive,” the architects of an upset — pick any moniker you like for the Bishop Feehan High School softball team.
Senior pitcher Brooke Sroczinski tamed the Taunton High Tigers with a three-hit, nine-strikeout performance as the Shamrocks claimed a 3-1 victory in the MIAA Division 1 South Sectional semifinals Friday night at Jack Tripp Field.
Sroczinski ended three innings with a strikeout and took a line drive back to the circle for another out while the Shamrock defense foiled the Tigers time and again as Taunton stranded six baserunners in scoring position, leaving the bags jammed in the third inning.
“We’ve been practicing really hard for every situation,” the RPI-bound Sroczinski said. “This was the most prepared we’ve ever been for a game. You have to trust your defense, trust your offense.”
The Shamrocks had runners on base in every inning except the second and fourth as they smacked a half-dozen hits off of Hockomock League whirlwind sophomore pitcher Kelsey White and scored solo runs in the first, sixth and seventh innings.
The No. 3 seed Shamrocks (20-2), making their third Division 1 South Sectional appearance over the past four seasons, had lost a 7-2 decision to the Tigers earlier in the season. Now, it’s on to the championship game Sunday at 1 p.m. when the Shamrocks take on Bridgewater-Raynham High.
But, what side of the field wll Brett Sroczinski sit on to celebrate Father’s Day? With Brooke and the Shamrocks, or with his other daughter, Riley, a sophomore member of the Trojans?
“I’ll tell him,” Brooke Sroczinski said of her influence as she did in Bishop Feehan taming the Tigers.
“It comes down to a game of execution,” Taunton High coach Dave Lewry said. “You’ve got to execute at the plate, you’ve got to execute in the field, got to execute on the bases. We picked the wrong game not to execute in.”
The Shamrocks sent a message to Taunton in the very first frame as leadoff batter, senior center fielder Jess Levesque hammered a triple to right-center field and scored when Bella Sheeran’s grounder was mis-played.
Bishop Feehan parlayed a second run, the game-winning run with two outs in the sixth inning. Senior first baseman Caroline Deem lined a single into right field, advanced on an infield ground ball and scored on a two-out, two-strike single off of the bat of Scroczinski.
“We were flirting with danger the whole game,” Milot said. “We obviously did not play a flawless game (three errors, two hit batters, three walks). It was just some timely hitting, some good defense and fortunately they (Taunton) were not able to capitalize on some of the mistakes that we made.”
No. 2 seed Taunton (22-3) took a three-game winning streak into Friday, shutting out all three foes and outscoring the opposition by a 17-0 margin.
The Tigers used two walks, a fielder’s choice and a two-out single by leadoff hitter Jaime Brown to get on the scoreboard in the sixth inning, creating concern for the Shamrocks with merely a 2-1 lead entering the seventh inning.
But in that seventh, the Shamrocks extinguished any notion that Taunton had of a rally. Shamrock freshman shortstop Haley Coupal singled into center field with one out and then dashed all the way from second base for the third Bishop Feehan run when Levesque’s ground ball to first base was mis-played by the Tigers.
“It wasn’t a good game for us all around,” Lewry added. “We took too many third strikes in key situations, we didn’t get down bunts. We picked the wrong game to play poorly — it was very uncharacteristic.”
Taunton had runners on base in all but the second inning, putting the leadoff batter aboard in the third, fourth and sixth innings.
With a Tiger runner at second base in the first inning, Shamrock catcher Gabrielle Comeau latched onto a popup for the final out.
With a Tiger runner at third base in the second inning, Sroczinski retired the No. 8 batter in the order on a strikeout to end the inning.
With two Tigers on base in the third inning, Sroczinski retired the Tigers’ No. 3 hitter on a 3-and-2 pitch for the second out, then with the bags jammed, stabbed a line drive back to the circle for the final out.
With the first two Tiger batters on base in the fourth inning, Comeau made a superb diving stab of a foul ball for the first out, while Sroczinski induded a popup to second baseman Hannah Ramer on a 3-and-2 pitch for the final out.
With Tiger runners at second and third base in the sixth inning, Sroczinski struck out the No. 2 batter in the Tiger order on three pitches to end the frame.
“Being under the lights, I’m used to the pressure,” Sroczinski said of her career as a right fielder, then a shortstop and now the pitcher for the Division 1 South Tournament finalist Shamrocks.
“My parents better be sitting on our side of the field,” she said.