Crimson Tide bedeviled in Division I softball final

  • Concord's Grace MacDonald waits for a pitch during Saturday's Division I softball final against Salem at Rivier University in Nashua. Salem won, 5-1. ALLIE ST. PETER—For the Monitor

  • Concord's Maddy Wachter delivers a pitch during Saturday's Division I softball final against Salem at Rivier University in Nashua. Salem won, 5-1. ALLIE ST. PETER—For the Monitor

  • Concord's Kyleigh Gray connects on a double during Saturday's Division I softball final against Salem at Rivier University in Nashua. Salem won, 5-1. LAUREN CALDWELL—Courtesy

  • Concord senior catcher and captain Lillian Rienstra tracks down a pop foul during Saturday's Division I softball championship against Salem at Rivier University in Nashua. Salem won, 5-1. KATHI RIENSTRA—Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 6/13/2021 1:28:27 PM

The Concord softball team didn’t seem nervous before Saturday’s Division I championship against Salem, but the first few innings told a different story.

“They’ve been a loose team all year, in practices and games, but it showed out there,” Crimson Tide coach Duke Sawyer said.

Concord committed an error in the first inning and two more in the second, and the Blue Devils took advantage by scoring all of their runs for an eventual 5-1 win at Rivier University in Nashua. It’s the 19th title for Salem, which last won in 2016. The Tide, the 2018 champion, is now 6-5 in finals appearances.

Concord (18-3) threatened in the top of the first inning with a walk from senior Alice Rosenberg and a double from freshman Sarah Taylor, but Salem pitcher Madison Solt got out of it with a strikeout. That missed opportunity stung even more when the Blue Devils (21-1) plated three runs in the bottom half of the inning.

Salem’s No. 1 and 2 hitters, Jennifer Olson and Madison Burns, both sped to infield hits out of the left-handed batter’s box to start the game, and the tandem combined to go 5-for-6 with four runs on the day. After they reached in the first, Rosenberg induced a ground ball from Addison Lucier that should have been the first out of the inning, but the Tide couldn’t make the play and Olson came around to score. Rosenberg got two pop outs after that, but Vania Moniz delivered a two-out, two-run single to give Salem a 3-0 lead after one.

Concord made more noise in the second when Kyleigh Gray hammered a double off the fence, just missing a two-run home run. Still, that left runners on second and third with one out, but Solt (7 IP, 4 hits, 7 strikeouts, one walk) escaped again, and again the Blue Devils made it hurt more with runs in the bottom half of the frame.

Olson was back at the plate with two outs in the second, and she slapped her way on base a second time. Burns followed with a slap of her own, and the Tide threw the ball around trying to catch Olson on the bases. Instead of finding an out, Concord found a 4-0 hole when Olson scored on the play. Lucier made it 5-0 when she singled home Burns.

“The first two innings, they killed us,” Sawyer said. “Salem wasn’t swinging very hard, but they put the bat on the ball and we couldn’t make a few plays and then we were throwing the ball around a little bit.

“I didn’t think we were going to have the jitters like that, but we showed our youth in the first few innings that we haven’t showed all year long.”

The Tide has three freshmen and a sophomore in the starting lineup, which is certainly young for a D-I team that reaches the title game. But Salem also has three freshmen in the starting lineup, including Olson and Lucier, as well as two sophomores.

One of Concord’s talented freshman, Maddie Wachter, came on in relief to start the second inning for Rosenberg (2 IP, 6 hits, 5 runs, 0 earned runs). Wachter (whose older brother Jonah had just thrown a no-hitter in Concord’s 4-0 win in the D-I baseball final) kept the Blue Devils in check, giving up three hits and striking out six in four innings of work. But the Tide couldn’t cut into the lead as Solt found a rhythm and retired nine of the 10 batters she faces in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

Concord junior Elizabeth Blinn launched a home run to straightaway center with two outs in the sixth, but that was all the offense the Tide could muster in the final game of the season.

“We got here and we had a shot to win a championship, we didn’t do it, but I’m really proud of the senior leadership on this team to take those young girls like they did and show them what to do," Sawyer said. “It was a fantastic year, it really was.”




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