TAUNTON — Wednesday was Senior Night for Taunton softball, and while the six members of the senior class were recognized, so too was a man who had an impact on many of the area's softball players.
"Anybody who has grown up in this town and knows the sport of softball … knows that the sport of softball is not even a thing in this town without that man," Taunton coach Carrie Consalvi said. "Although I did not know him that well, I know that he has touched many of our player’s lives and I really wanted to give him the tribute (for being) the ‘softball big dad’ in this area who a lot of these kids grew up with him coaching and he gave so much time to the sport that we all love, so we wanted to wear jerseys in his memory and tip our hats to his family."
The jersey featured several nods to Lasser, including floral shirt patterns for his love of the music of Jimmy Buffett, a Snickers bar, his favorite candy, on the left sleeve and a quote that stuck with many of his players on the back bottom of the jersey: "If you're not early, you're late."
"What made Mark a great coach was not just his knowledge of the game but his ability to build relationships with his players," Taunton assistant coach Jordan Wade, who played for Lasser, said. "Whether he coached you for one season or ten seasons, you were treated as if you were his own. You received a nickname day one and it stuck with you forever. The lessons he taught his athletes are still with them to this day, especially everyone’s favorite, ‘If you’re not early, you’re late.’ He may have shown up to the field barefoot and eating a Snickers bar at 8 a.m., but he always meant business."
Taunton 11, Bishop Feehan 7
After a moment of silence, the girls took the field and delivered one of their biggest wins of the year as they beat non-league rival Bishop Feehan, who came into the game as the top-ranked team in Division I, 11-7 to improve to 15-3 on the season.
"I’m really proud of my players today," Consalvi said. "The energy that they brought into this game was very evident. We knew that (Feehan) were going to be a good team, we know they had a good pitcher. We definitely prepared for her and got the (pitching) machine out and cranked the speed a little bit, so we were ready to go in regards."
After going down 1-0 in the first, the Tigers plated four runs in the first and then another two in the second and another in the third before adding four more in the sixth to seal the deal. Mia Fernandes led the way at the plate from the bottom of the order as she went two-for-three with a pair of runs and RBIs each and hit her first career home run.
"This lineup offensively is dangerous when they’re on and one through nine at any moment can do that, so I’m glad that she’s getting the confidence in herself at the plate to do that to allow her to relax and do those types of things and step up for us," Consalvi said.
In the circle for Taunton, Liv Mendonca led the way as she tossed a complete game giving up 10 hits, six runs and three walks while striking out six against a powerful Shamrock offense.
"Liv did what she had to do to keep us in the game and that’s all I can ask for," Consalvi said. "She did a great job."
Feehan was able to get on the board first in the top of the first as a two-out single by McKenzie Faherty turned into a run as she came home on a wild pitch later in the inning to make it 1-0. Taunton responded right back with all four of their first batters, Kyleah Plumb, Angie Lynch, Kaysie Demoura and Ava Venturelli, reaching home thanks to three walks and a hit by pitch, with a walk to Venturelli driving home Plumb to tie up the game while Lynch came home off a Hayley Krockta sacrifice fly to center to take the lead and Mendonca and Brooke Aldrich drove in Demoura and Venturelli on a single and double respectively.
"You always want to score first and you always want to get as many as you can and we did that," Consalvi said. "We understand who we are and we know teams are going to score runs against us, so we just know that we have to stay consistent at the plate and continue to score runs. We can’t sit on a lead and that’s where it’s come back to haunt us a couple of times this year. They were consistent and they kept chipping away at different parts of the game, and that was the difference for us."
Feehan pulled starter Mylee Ramer ahead of the second inning in favor of Maddie Rizzo, but she surrendered a home run to the first batter she faced as Fernandes crushed a ball over the left field fence while Plumb got on next via a bunt and came home on a Venturelli ground out to third to make it 6-1 in favor of the Tigers.
The Shamrocks struck back in the top of the third as a leadoff single by Faherty was followed by a two run home run by Haley Coupal to deep left to make it 6-3.
Krockta led off the bottom of the third with a double and came home as Plumb was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to make it 7-3 Taunton.
The Tigers expanded on that lead again in the fifth as a walk to Mendonca to start the inning and a single by Aldrich was followed by back-to-back RBI singles by Kylie Thorpe and Fernandes, both of whom were driven in on a two RBI single by Lynch to make it 11-3.
Feehan attempted some comeback efforts later on, including in the top of the sixth as back-to-back singles by Coupal and Abigail Brooks were followed up by a three run home run by Haley Petrucci to straight center to make it 11-6, but a double play led by Aldrich at short and a strikeout ended the inning.
The Shamrocks added one more run in the seventh as a Faherty hit a two out single followed by a walk to Coupal and a single by Brooks to drive Faherty home, but after she scored Coupal was caught in a pickle by the Tigers before being thrown out at third to end the ballgame.
Taunton, ranked No. 6 in the latest Division I power rankings, has two remaining games in the regular season hosting No. 15 Newton North Friday before heading to Attleboro Saturday morning for a rematch with Feehan to close out the regular season schedule.
"We don’t make these schedules easy on ourselves, we’re stacking them back-to-back and I said to the girls earlier this week that things are what they are and these are uncontrollable, so just show up and work your hardest and whatever happens, whether it’s a W or a loss, as long as you leave it all out there on the field, that’s all that I can ask for," Consalvi said.
Though they may be tough games, they're exactly what's needed for the Tigers as they prepare to defend their state title in the upcoming tournament.
"There’s no better preparation," Consalvi said. "These are some of the best teams in the state, so we look at the challenge and we’re ready to take it."
Other strong performers at the plate for Taunton include Lynch and Thorpe, who both went two-for-three with a run and RBI each, while Plumb went one-for-two with a pair of runs and an RBI, Krockta went one-for-three with a walk and an RBI and Venturelli went zero-for-three with a run and a pair of RBIs.
For the Shamrocks, Coupal went three-for-three with a run and two RBIs while Faherty went three-for-four with a pair of runs and Petrucci went one-for-two with a run and three RBIs.
In the circle, Ramer was credited with the loss as she went an inning giving up four runs on three walks and a hit while Rizzo tossed the remaining five innings giving up seven runs on nine hits and a pair of walks.
Taunton Daily Gazette sports reporter Cameron Merritt can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @CamMerritt_News. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to the Taunton Daily Gazette today.
This article originally appeared on The Taunton Daily Gazette: Honoring Mark Lasser, Taunton softball upends Bishop Feehan