High schools: Rochette strikes out 16 as Concord softball picks up 3rd straight win

  • Concord shortstop Autumn Nudd (3) fields the ball and fires to first base on Tuesday during a 3-1 win over Windham in Concord. Rich Miyara / NH Sports Photography

  • Concord shortstop Autumn Nudd (3) slides into home after hitting a triple and advancing home on an error on Tuesday during the Crimson Tide’s 3-1 win over Windham at Reed Field in Concord. The Crimson Tide improved to 3-0 on the season. Rich Miyara / NH Sports Photography

  • Concord pitcher Abby Rochette (8) delivers a pitch on Tuesday during the Crimson Tide’s 3-1 victory over Windham in Concord. Rich Miyara / NH Sports Photography

  • Concord pitcher Abby Rochette (8) delivers a pitch on Tuesday during the Crimson Tide’s 3-1 victory over Windham at Reed Field in Concord. Rich Miyara / NH Sports Photography

  • Concord pitcher Abby Rochette (8) celebrates with catcher Abby Corbett (20) after twirling a complete game on Tuesday to lead the Crimson Tide to a 3-1 win over Windham in Concord. Rich Miyara / NH Sports Photography

  • Concord outfielder Elise O’Neil (6) drives a pitch on Tuesday during the Crimson Tide’s 3-1 victory over Windham in Concord. Rich Miyara / NH Sports Photography

  • Concord outfielder Nicole LeBrun (4) drives a pitch on Tuesday during the Crimson Tide’s 3-1 victory over Windham in Concord. Rich Miyara / NH Sports Photography

Monitor staff
Published: 4/16/2019 8:50:15 PM

All eyes were on the reigning Gatorade New Hampshire Softball Player of the Year on Tuesday afternoon as Concord ace Abby Rochette made her season debut in the circle.

A year removed from completely dominating all of Division I to the tune of a 12-1 regular-season record and more than 150 strikeouts, fans in the area packed the sidewalk along Reed Field in Concord to see what Rochette had in store for 2019.

The Tide senior did not disappoint.

Rochette went all seven innings, striking out 16 Windham batters, including 10 over the first four frames to keep the Jaguars at bay and pick up right where she left off in powering the Tide to a 3-1 victory.

“I felt good. The start of every season is kind of nerving, but it was good to be back,” said Rochette, who gave up four hits, one run and three walks during her outing.

“The beginning of every season, obviously, not everything is going to work and you’re working out the kinks. But everything was working as well as I’d hoped, even better than I’d hoped and it was great to see everybody else contributing to help me out,” Rochette said.

The defending champion Tide is now 3-0 to open the season after beating Windham, which moved up from Division II and was facing Rochette for the very first time.

The Jaguars were mostly stifled aside from the third inning when Rochette got a little wild, hitting a batter and issuing three walks, including a free pass to Grace Bono with the bases loaded to plate Windham’s lone run.

“She was trying to hit her corners and she was a little rusty. There’s no doubt she was rusty,” Concord coach Duke Sawyer said. “I wasn’t too concerned. I’ve seen her work out of it before and I feel if we get three or four runs, we’re in decent shape with her on the mound.”

And that’s exactly what the Tide offense provided.

It was far from a hit parade against Windham’s Abby Bedient, but Concord senior Elise O’Neil delivered the first blow with the bases loaded in the home half of the first inning.

After Bedient gave up singles to Autumn Nudd, Abby Corbett and Sydney Plante, she nearly escaped the inning unharmed when she caught Lillian Rienstra looking at a third strike for the second out.

Except Bedient still had to go through O’Neil, who promptly smacked a two-run double over the right fielder’s head.

Concord added to its lead the very next inning when Nudd blasted one into the gap for a triple and came around to score when the throw back in was bobbled by the shortstop to make it 3-0.

“I was hoping to score some more runs and get (Rochette) four or five innings, but we do like to score early and put the pressure on the other team,” Sawyer said. “It’s hard to come back against Abby. It just is and we don’t make a lot of mistakes out there defensively. She doesn’t walk a lot of people so they’re going to have to hit the ball.”

Windham did have it’s chances on a couple of hard-hit balls late in the game, but that Concord defense turned potential runs into outs.

Center fielder Nicole LeBrun made a terrific throw from her outfield spot to end the fifth inning when she threw out a Windham runner trying to take third base off a single from Bono. Then in the sixth, Nudd sprawled out for a diving grab at shortstop to haul in a line drive.

“I’m happy with the way the defense is going and it’s what I expected. The outfield is really coming together now,” Sawyer said. “The infield is solid with just a lot of veterans and Nudd just holds it all down. She’s the leader out there and I can’t say enough about her.”

Rochette did the rest, striking out the first two batters of the seventh inning before inducing a soft roller to the catcher Corbett, who threw on to first for the final out.

The contest against Windham was the start of a stretch of four games in four days for the Tide, who will visit Winnacunnet on Wednesday and head back home to play Manchester Central on Thursday before a trip to Nashua South on Friday.

(Jay McAree can be reached at 369-3371, jmcaree@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JayMcAree.)



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