PROVIDENCE — The South Kingstown Rebels stormed back and beat the top-seeded Rogers Vikings 6-5 on Monday evening in the winners bracket semifinals of the Division II softball playoffs.
The Rebels were led by senior Samantha Hutchins, who tossed a complete game and struck out two. After getting shut-out for five innings, the Rebels broke through in the sixth to take the lead and held on.
They were set to face Scituate Wednesday in the winners bracket final, having already made their deepest run in many years.
“It feels awesome,” Hutchins said. “We’ve worked so hard for four years and I’m just so happy that we get to move on.”
It wasn’t easy, but Hutchins stayed in the circle and got the job done.
“I knew that they were going to be tough batters, but I knew I just had to pitch the best I could and see what happens,” Hutchins said. “And my team made all the plays and I couldn’t thank them more.”
Keaira Richardson, South Kingstown’s star first baseman, gave the Rebels their first lead when she belted a bases-clearing, three-run triple to right-center during the top of the sixth inning.
Shannon Ward, a senior, started in the circle for Rogers and pitched five strong innings and punched out 10. The Vikings took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third when Jamie Ward scored during a double-steal with Mackenzie Palmer reaching second base.
Next, Rogers added to its buffer in the fifth, when with the bases jammed, Ward helped her own cause, and placed a two-run single up the middle while extending the Vikings’ advantage to 3-0.
But when the Vikings had the Rebels on the ropes, South Kingstown responded with a haymaker. In the top half of the sixth, Kacie Curran led off with a single to right, which ended a no-hit bid for Ward. Then, Hutchins ripped a comebacker at the pitcher, who went to second to get Curran, but the throw sailed high, and into shallow center field, allowing both runners to reach safely. Next, Liz Maciocio earned an infield hit and loaded the bases. After that, Ward hit Faith Hutchins with a pitch, which brought Curran home from third and made it 3-1.
“We knew what we had to face and she’s a great pitcher,” South Kingstown coach Steve Chadwick said of Ward and the Vikings. “And we just got to her in that one inning and things started rolling. These kids can hit and when they get going and they feel confident with themselves, they put it in play hard. And that’s what they did.”
Rogers then dipped into its bullpen and got Lilly Bestoso, a junior, to come on and pitch in relief of Ward. And with the bases still juiced, South Kingstown’s Richardson greeted Bestoso with the three-run triple, which gave the Rebels a 4-3 advantage.
“Well, I’ve always said, I think she’s one of the best softball players in the state,” Chadwick said of Richardson. “She plays great first base over here. She’s a great hitter. When the chips are down the girl can hit. It’s fun to watch. I’m glad she’s on my team and not against me. She hits the ball hard and when she hit that triple you knew that ball was hit hard. And that got everybody pumped up and they started hitting from there.”
Olivia Santucci, South Kingstown’s senior catcher, rocketed an RBI single to right and scored Richardson to up the lead to 5-3. Rylee Smith then ripped an RBI triple to center and scored Santucci, which put South Kingstown on top 6-3.
In the bottom of the inning, Rogers inched within 6-5, when with two outs and runners at second and third, Julia D’Amore launched a fly ball to left, which was dropped by the outfielder, scoring both Phoebe MacDonald and Shea Milburn.
In the bottom of the seventh, Samantha Hutchins came back out into the circle and retired the side in order.
“She was awesome,” Chadwick said. “She threw strikes when she needed to throw strikes. And our girls took advantage of a couple mistakes and played defense behind Sammy, and so we’re here now. So that’s good, we advance and I’m so proud of these girls. I can’t ever be prouder because they work so hard and it’s good that things pay off when you work hard.”