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Concord softball rallies to force extras, walks off with 6th D-I title in program history

  • Concord celebrates their win over Spaulding, 5-4, in nine innings during the Division I softball championship game at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester on Saturday, June 9, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord piles on top of Abigail Corbett (right) after her game winning single to end the Division I softball championship game at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester on Saturday, June 9, 2018. Concord defeated Spaulding, 5-4, in nine innings. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord's Haley Munroe (2) makes a save during the Division I softball championship game at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester on Saturday, June 9, 2018. Concord defeated Spaulding, 5-4, in nine innings. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord's Autumn Nudd (3) connects with a pitch during the Division I softball championship game at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester on Saturday, June 9, 2018. Concord defeated Spaulding, 5-4, in nine innings. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord's Isabelle Dunn (7) swings at a pitch during the Division I softball championship game at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester on Saturday, June 9, 2018. Concord defeated Spaulding, 5-4, in nine innings. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord's Abigail Rochette (8) throws a pitch during the Division I softball championship game at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester on Saturday, June 9, 2018. Concord defeated Spaulding, 5-4, in nine innings. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord's Abigail Corbett (20) connects with a pitch during the Division I softball championship game at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester on Saturday, June 9, 2018. Concord defeated Spaulding, 5-4, in nine innings. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord defeated Spaulding, 5-4, in nine innings during the Division I softball championship game at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester on Saturday, June 9, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord greets Abigail Corbett (20) at home plate for her home run during the Division I softball championship game at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester on Saturday, June 9, 2018. Concord defeated Spaulding, 5-4, in nine innings. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord's Abigail Rochette (8) arrives safely to first base during the Division I softball championship game at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester on Saturday, June 9, 2018. Concord defeated Spaulding, 5-4, in nine innings. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord celebrates their win over Spaulding, 5-4, in nine innings during the Division I softball championship game at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester on Saturday, June 9, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord's Abigail Rochette (8) and Abigail Corbett (20) embrace at the end of the Division I softball championship game at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester on Saturday, June 9, 2018. Concord defeated Spaulding, 5-4, in nine innings. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord defeated Spaulding, 5-4, in nine innings during the Division I softball championship game at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester on Saturday, June 9, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord defeated Spaulding, 5-4, in nine innings during the Division I softball championship game at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester on Saturday, June 9, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord defeated Spaulding, 5-4, in nine innings during the Division I softball championship game at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester on Saturday, June 9, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord rushes onto the field at the end of the Division I softball championship game at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester on Saturday, June 9, 2018. Concord defeated Spaulding, 5-4, in nine innings. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Sunday, June 10, 2018

HOOKSETT – While the fans were being pulled to the edges of their seats, Concord softball pitcher Abigail Rochette took a moment in the ninth to soak it all in.

The Gatorade New Hampshire Softball Player of the Year was in a jam with the bases loaded, one out and the score tied in the ninth against Spaulding with the Division I championship on the line Saturday night.

“I looked around and saw everyone here and I saw the lights and I saw the scoreboard and I just thought, ‘Wow, I love this game so much and win or lose it’s going to be a fantastic game either way,’ ” she said.

Rochette escaped the inning clean and went on to score the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth thanks to a fielder’s choice off the bat of Abigail Corbett as No. 3 Concord captured its first softball title since 2009 with a 5-4 win over No. 4 Spaulding.

Corbett drilled a two-run homer over the left-field fence to tie the game, 4-4, in the bottom of the sixth.

The seventh and eighth innings were scoreless as Rochette and Spaulding (16-5) pitcher Isabel Eames carried their duel into extras. Rochette escaped two bases-loaded jams in the eighth and ninth to keep the score even.

“I’ve lost 10 years off my life,” Concord coach Duke Sawyer said, wrapping up his 18th season leading the Tide with the program’s sixth title. “I kept putting people on base for Abby, but she got through it.”

Sawyer was referring to Spaulding’s Geana Torres, who hit a two-run homer of her own in the first inning that nearly reached the parking lot at Southern New Hampshire University. Torres, who will continue her softball career at Division I Missouri next year, was intentionally walked in the eighth and ninth innings.

“I wasn’t going to let that girl beat us again,” Sawyer said. “She’s a great hitter and I didn’t want one person to beat us.”

When Torres was walked in the ninth, it loaded the bases with one out. Rochette caught a fly ball and struck out the next batter to finish the inning. It was her 13th and final strikeout of the game and it came on her 161st pitch.

But this game was not all about Rochette dominating from the circle, as it has been in many contests for Concord (18-3) this season. Rochette stumbled out of the gate and allowed four runs on three hits and three walks in the first two innings, including the Torres home run.

As the Crimson Tide stared down a 4-0 hole early, all of the momentum was in Spaulding’s dugout. It began to swing back in the third as Spaulding’s first three batters were put away quickly. Jillian Dusseault made an impressive catch on a fly ball in foul territory with her back to the plate, Nicole LeBrun ran down a line drive in center and Rochette struck out Lillian Laganiere to end the inning.

“We needed to get more, we certainly knew that,” Spaulding coach Sheila Colson said of the 4-0 lead. “But (Rochette) settled down and we couldn’t score after that.”

Concord plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the third, cutting Spaulding’s lead to 4-2. Dusseault pounded her feet down the first-base line for an infield single and pinch-runner Lillian Rienstra took her spot. Rienstra took second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a triple to right field by Rochette. Autumn Nudd grounded to third to bring her home for Concord’s second run.

Rochette continued to find her groove in the fourth and beyond. She allowed one hit and didn’t walk any over the next 13 batters she faced.

While Rochette settled in, the jeers that rang from Spaulding’s student section early in the game quieted.

“Honestly, I have to give a lot of thanks to the fans,” Rochette said, clutching the championship plaque to her chest. “I love the chirping. It encourages me so much. I just think it’s a fantastic way to get the game going, to get the adrenaline going, and it really encouraged me. I just thought, ‘Wow, they’re really intimidated and I’m not going to be intimidated.’ ”

Corbett stepped to the plate in the ninth with Rochette on third and two outs. She hit a grounder to third and Spaulding’s third baseman opted to throw home and try to beat Rochette rather than try to throw to first to make Corbett the third out and end the inning.

The throw home was off target and Corbett was credited with the game-winning RBI.

“I needed to do what was best for the team, so I just went up there, swung the bat hard and got the win,” said Corbett, a sophomore. “My first-base coach (Sandy Smith) was like ‘You did it!’ And I didn’t believe her until I saw everyone coming towards me.”

Rochette crossed the plate standing up. She turned and looked to first base where the celebration was getting started.

“It was two outs, so I was thinking just run and get to four (home plate),” Rochette said. “It took a second and I looked around and thought, ‘Wow, that was the end of the game. Wow, Abby’s amazing.’

“And then, ‘Wow, we won.’ ”

(Nick Stoico can be reached at nstoico@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @NickStoico.)