PLYMOUTH — Like mother, like daughter.
Hopkinton High School sophomore pitcher Megan Kimball-Rhines threw a two-hitter to lift her team to a 2-0 win over No. 4 Campbell High School in a well-played NHIAA Division III softball championshp Saturday afternoon on Chase Field at Plymouth State University.
Kimball-Rhines nailed down the last of her eight strikeouts in the bottom of the seventh inning, threw her glove down and raced towards home plate and jumped into the arms of junior catcher Katie Meserve and the celebration was on.
“We love it,” said Meserve, who threw a runner out stealing for the second out of the seventh inning. “We love our team. It’s just so incredible to be here with them. This is my third championship appearance with all my teams and I’ve never won. I couldn’t ask for a better team. The dynamic we have is amazing.”
The No. 4-seeded Hawks feature three freshmen starters –- at second base, shortstop and third base –- and three sophomores, all led by Kimball-Rhines.
The pitcher started the rally that produced Hopkinton’s first run and knocked in the second.
“She’s a good hitter, she’s a good pitcher, she’s just fantastic,” Meserve said. “She’s a great teammate and a great player.”
Hopkinton was back in the title game for the first time since 1998 and won its first championship in a quarter of a century.
That 1994 title was part of a string of eight championship in 10 seasons under coach Dick Blood.
Holly Kimball, the mother of Kimball-Rhines, helped Hopkinton to the first championship in that run as the starting pitcher for the 1985 title team.
Hopkinton struck first in the top of the fourth inning.
Kimball-Rhines, freshman third baseman Maddy Follansbee and Meserve each singled to load the bases with two outs.
Sophomore centerfielder Brooke Carlson worked a walk to force in a run for the 1-0 lead.
Kimball-Rhines and the Hawks used a two-out rally to double the lead in the next inning. Baer beat out an infield single and got to third with an error on a stolen base.
Kimball-Rhines ripped a triple to left field to score Baer.
Defensively, the Hawks escaped serious trouble in the first inning.
Two of the first three batters drew walks and Campbell had senior Abi Gray and junior Emily Gamache on second and third with one out.
Kimball-Rhines bore down and caught a pop up herself and got a fly out to centerfield to end the threat.
“I think our frustrating moment was in the bottom of one when I had runners in scoring position and no outs and I did not get any plated,” Campbell coach Eric Gibbons said. “I kind of realized then it was going to be a little tougher than I thought.”
Campbell is a young team, too, with five sophomores and a freshman in the starting lineup, and finished with a 16-4 record.
Hopkinton worked its game plan to perfection and closed out its championship season at 16-4 under coach Dan Meserve.
“Our game plan going in was to treat this like we’re climbing a mountain,” Meserve said. “Instead of looking at the top and saying we’re going to get there, let’s do it one little bit at a time. Let’s shorten it. Let’s be in this game after two innings and be in it after four and be in it after five and let’s see what happens.”
A championship happened.