In a season in which Lindsay Taylor has thrown three perfect games and recorded the 1,000th strikeout of her career, she called a 15-run loss the best thing that has happened to her team all year.
"I think them beating us kind of woke us up," Taylor said of Kings Park's opening day defeat to Deer Park in late March, in which she took the loss. "It was like we needed to pick everything up and put it all together. It just motivated us all season to get even better."
Since that rude but motivational wake-up call, Taylor and Kings Park have allowed just five total runs during a 12-game winning streak, capped by Thursday's 5-0 win over Deer Park.
Taylor, who earned the win in all 12 games, tossed her ninth shutout of the season, allowing three hits and three walks with 15 strikeouts to help Kings Park (12-1) avenge its lone loss of the season in a crucial League V matchup with Deer Park (10-3).
With her change-up and rise proving to be nearly unhittable, Taylor didn't find herself in a jam until the bottom of the seventh. After Amanda Pesca reached safely on a bunt to load the bases with two outs, Taylor closed out the game with a strikeout on a devastating rise.
Taylor praised her young team for the improvement it has shown since the 16-1 season-opening defeat and also reflected on her personal accomplishments as well.
"It's very important to me and I'm very proud of myself," the senior said of the 1,000th strikeout milestone she set on Monday. "I've been working hard since sixth grade, perfecting everything, and I'm really glad I got that this year."
After Reina Torlincasi provided Taylor some early run support with an RBI single to leftfield in the top of the first inning, eighth grader Cheyenne Giarraputo added to the lead in the second with a two-run single up the middle to bring home Nicole Torlincasi and Ariana Ambrosio, who went 2-for-3.
"It feels good to get a big hit because sometimes it's hard being one of the younger players on the team," Giarraputo said. "You need to boost your confidence and my confidence has grown."
Nicole Brieva knocked in another run in the second inning and Jessica LoBianco capped the scoring in the fourth with a run-scoring double to deep left-centerfield. Deer Park's Lisa Bonacasa, who walked none and had three strikeouts, allowed only an infield single after the fourth inning.
But with Taylor in the circle, the lead was in good hands. Coach Kim McGinley said that giving the ball to a pitcher of Taylor's caliber each game is a luxury that a coach is a lucky to have.
"It's a dream," she said. "She's consistent and stays focused. Even when she gets deep in the count she doesn't get rattled. She knows what has to be done and she executes. Lindsay is a diamond in the circle. We've got the real thing."