MILFORD, Mass. – The representing winners of the last three Division 1 state softball championships faced off Thursday. And, while most teams are feeling their way through the early season, a duel between Milford and King Philip always enlists a certain amount of intensity.
Reigning ESPN Boston Miss Softball award winner Shannon Smith looked near mid-season form in the circle for the Scarlet Hawks with 14 strikeouts in a complete-game, one-hitter in a 3-0 win over their new Hockomock League rival.
“You just look at this first week and playing a team like Taunton and then King Philip here, you know you were going have a test, big time,” Milford head coach Brian Macchi said. “We knew we were going to have an early indication of where we stand.
Milford (2-0, 2-0 Hockomock) churned out nine hits against Warriors starter Anna O’Neill and took an early lead in the second. Elizabeth Stallone drove in Caroline Fairbanks with a two-out single.
The Scarlet Hawks continued to produce with two outs in the fifth, when they pushed across a couple of insurance runs. Smith shot an opposite field single to the gap, scoring Sam Bonvino for a two-run cushion before Rachel Levine smacked a single to left, scoring Jenny Levine, who was running for Smith.
“In a game like this, you’re looking at one-to-nothing, as it could be the decider,” Macchi said. “But tacking on two runs … you just have that much more confidence as the game goes on.”
“She battled and found a way to get us another run, which was important.”
“She’s realizing that it’s her senior year and this is her last go-round. She’s relishing the opportunity to really leave on high note.”
“It’s a nice welcome to the league. It’ll be nice to see how the rivalries develop through time.”
WELCOME TO THE SHOW
With the addition of Milford and Taunton into the Hockomock League this year, both the Kelley-Rex and Davenport divisions have turned into an effective softball super conference.
While the defending champion Scarlet Hawks make their move from the Central sectional into the South, Macchi and his team realize how perilous the move could prove. They need look no further than their Thursday opponent, the owners of back-to-back state titles in 2010 and ’11.
The Warriors (1-1) have a new look this season, with an entirely new battery. O’Neill (10 strikeouts) takes over in the circle for Meghan Rico (George Washington) while junior Jordan Schaffer slides in behind the plate, taking over for another two-time ESPN Boston All-State selection in Olivia Godin (UMass-Amherst). KP also has a new head coach, as longtime Case bench boss Norm Beauchemin takes over for Jim Leonard.
And while the Warriors might be a team in (relative) transition, the Milford hurler still knew what the game represented.
“It means a lot to us,” Smith said. “It gives us confidence heading into the season just because it’s so early on and we’ve only played one other game. It shows us the potential we have. If we can beat a team like that this early, think of where we could be at the end of the year.”