Softball Tournaments: MV, Stark to play for D-II title; Concord ousted in D-I semis

  • Concord shortstop Autum Nudd makes a diving stop during Tuesday’s 7-0 Division I semifinal loss against No. 1 Exeter. The Blue Hawks (19-1) have now won 17 straight. They will face No. 3 Winnacunnet in Saturday’s final. The Warriors beat No. 7 Spaulding, 8-5, in the first semifinal. The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide, which has reached the semifinals in 11 of the last 15 years and won the D-I title last year, finishes the season at 14-6 behind some outstanding leadership from seniors Abby Rochette, Anita DiBuono, Elise O’Neil, Carly Torrance and Alyssa Fallon. MIKE WHALEY / Seacoastonline

Monitor staff
Published: 6/4/2019 11:34:21 PM

PLYMOUTH – Coe-Brown lost its composure for one inning and Merrimack Valley made the Bears pay in a big way during the Division II softball semifinals Tuesday at Plymouth State.

Looking to reach its first state championship since winning it all in 2001, No. 3 Merrimack Valley plated seven runs in the top half of the first inning and never looked back, taking advantage of a Coe-Brown team that was out of sync from the start to defeat the second-seeded Bears, 14-4, at Chase Field.

“It was a shock, it really was.” MV coach Sam York said of the start. “I was worried seven (runs) wouldn’t be enough.”

It almost wasn’t.

Coe-Brown immediately cut into the lead by scoring four runs of their own in the second behind RBI from Katherine Messenger (two-run single) and Hayleigh McNeil (RBI single) to make it a ballgame again, but the Pride kept its foot on the gas.

Miah Boucher delivered a clutch two-run single as part of a four-run third for MV, which took an 11-4 lead and cruised the rest of the way.

The Pride (16-3) will take on No. 4 John Stark (16-3) in Saturday’s championship scheduled for 5 p.m. back at Chase Field.

“The girls played outstanding. We certainly didn’t expect against a team of their caliber to come out and score seven runs in the first, but really I thought the key besides that was when they scored four, we jumped right back and scored four to answer and sort of quell the storm a little bit,” York said.

“And certainly I thought Sadie Barton pitched as well as she’s pitched all year, or even in two years for me.”

Barton, who had already delivered two complete games for MV this postseason, added a third Tuesday in her most important start of the season. She mainly pitched to contact, allowing the four runs on nine hits and letting the defense make the plays behind her.

“My team defended me really well this game and made me less stressed. I didn’t feel like I had to have it all rely on me,” Barton said. “This means so much to me. I think we’ve all been looking forward to this, we’ve all tried so hard to do this and I think we all deserved to make it to the final.”

Coe-Brown’s nightmare started early as starter Abigail Jerome struggled to find the strike zone. MV’s Alani Ramas drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 2-0, Meghan McGongagle drove in the next run on a single – the only hit of the inning for MV – and then a hit by a pitch put the Pride ahead, 4-0.

A quick switch in the pitching circle didn’t produce much of a different result for the Bears.

Messenger came on for Jerome and hit the first batter she faced to bring home another run before a sacrifice fly and an error plated the final two runs of the frame. In total, MV scored seven times on one base hit in the inning.

“I think we lost our composure a little bit, maybe got rattled by a couple of things that didn’t go our way and that’s what we have to learn from,” Coe-Brown coach David Allis said. “I think if we play our game there’s a much different outcome, but that’s the playoffs.”

No. 4 John Stark 10, No. 1 Milford 2

Izzy Nelson held the undefeated top seed at bay all game long and the No. 4 John Stark softball team will be making a return trip to the Division II final after upending No. 1 Milford, 10-2, in Tuesday’s second semifinal at Plymouth State’s Chase Field.

The Generals, the defending champions, fell behind by a run in the early stages but shook it off to score three in the fourth to take the lead. Sarah Ferguson and Lillian Stogner both delivered RBI for Stark in the frame. Stark upped its lead to five runs in the fifth when Stogner came through again with an RBI single, Brooke Patnode did the same and another run crossed the plate on an error to make it 6-1.

Both Nelson and Ferguson produced insurance runs in the seventh. Nelson helped her own cause in the circle with a two-run double and Ferguson added on with an RBI single to put the contest out of reach at 10-2.

Nelson allowed just the two runs, struck out eight Milford batters and didn’t give up much hard contact as the Spartans used a sacrifice fly to score a run in the third and a wild pitch to plate a solo run in the sixth.

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


No. 1 Exeter 7, No. 4 Concord 0

The top-seeded Blue Hawks jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on Tuesday night, which gave Exeter senior pitcher Sam Wiberg all the runs she would need. Wiberg spun a three-hitter and allowed only five baserunners, as Exeter (19-1) tacked on plenty of insurance runs for the victory over Concord (14-6) at Plymouth State University’s D&M Field.

“They were confident right from the start,” Exeter coach Kristen Morissette said. “They were loose and it was just a game. They’ve played so many and loved being on the field with each other. When we put up two in that first inning; it just relaxed everyone a little bit. They played outstanding.”

Exeter will now face Winnacunnet in Saturday’s 2 p.m. final. The third-seeded Warriors (16-5) advanced with an 8-5 victory over Spaulding (14-8).

Exeter junior Trinity Young (four RBI) blasted a two-run home run in the fifth inning, but it was her two-out, two-run single against Concord pitcher Abby Rochette that began things for Exeter.

Rochette, last year’s New Hampshire Gatorade Player of the Year, gave up a leadoff single to Wiberg and Leah Burns walked. Rochette retired the next two hitters, but Young’s dying single was trapped by center fielder Nicole LeBrun. Both Wiberg and Burns scored to give Exeter a 2-0 lead.

“That was exciting,” Young said. “Before game, we all say what our goals are, and for the past two games I said I want to get RBI, and I want to drive people in. I really wanted to do that, and I’m so happy it worked out.”

The closest to a threat that Concord (15-6) had was robbed on back-to-back plays in the top of the third by Exeter right fielder Emma Chisholm and left fielder Julia Sveen.

Wiberg (five strikeouts) gave up a leadoff single to Sydney Plante, and with one out, Chisholm sprinted to snow-cone an Autmn Nudd line drive. Sveen then chased down a line drive to end the inning.

“It put so much confidence in me as a pitcher to have the defense that I have,” Wiberg said. “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the defense that we have and the defense that we’ve worked so hard for. I can’t to it without them; no way.”

Exeter scored three unearned runs off Rochette in the bottom of the fourth, Chisholm reached on an error to begin the inning and Kosrin Forman followed with a bunt single. With two outs, Wiberg delivered an RBI single, and Burns added a two-run single to give Exeter a 5-0 lead.

Rochette (six) strikeouts allowed four earned runs on eight hits in five innings. Exeter defeated Concord, 6-5, in the regular season finale.

“(Exeter) deserved it; they played great,” Concord coach Duke Sawyer said. “Whatever we hit – they caught. We were outplayed today and showed.”

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