Concord softball ace Rochette focused on senior season before taking on next level

  • Concord pitcher Abby Rochette (8) celebrates with catcher Abby Corbett (20) after pitching a complete game on Tuesday. Rich Miyara / NH Sports Photography

  • Concord senior Abby Rochette fires a pitch during a 16-strikeout performance on Tuesday. Rich Miyara / NH Sports Photography

  • 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

  • Concord’s Abby Rochette hoists the Division I championship plaque while surrounded by teammates after last year’s 5-4 victory in nine innings over Spaulding in the title game. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor file

Monitor staff
Published: 4/18/2019 6:58:19 PM

Abby Rochette is both self-effacing and self-assured, the kind of demeanor coaches dream about in a senior leader and captain.

That personality rubs off on the rest of her Concord High softball teammates, too – just one of the many reasons the Tide are potentially in position to repeat as champion in Division I this spring.

“This year there’s a lot of returning players and we’re trying to stay humble and confident, but also trying to come at the other team as fierce as we were last year,” said Rochette, Concord’s ace and the D-I Pitcher of the Year last season.

“We’re not thinking about a championship right now,” Rochette said. “We’re more thinking about having a great season. A lot of the seniors are thinking the same thing: We just want to have a good year.”

Rochette, in her final season with the Tide and just a year removed from being named the Gatorade New Hampshire Softball Player of the Year, is the engine that makes Concord run.

There isn’t a batter that feels comfortable in the box when she’s in the circle, and for good reason after she pitched to a 0.92 ERA with 151 strikeouts in 83⅓ innings last regular season to lead the Tide to its sixth championship in program history.

After putting in the work this offseason, Rochette opened the year with a 16-strikeout performance in a complete-game win over Windham on Tuesday. But Concord head coach Duke Sawyer made it clear that a repeat performance for Rochette this year is unlikely.

“It’s going to be a tough encore,” said Sawyer, who has the Tide off to a 4-1 start after Wednesday’s 10-0 win over Manchester Cenral. “I don’t plan to pitch her as much this year. We have kids on the staff that can throw, so I’d like to give her more of a rest. Toward the end of last year I used her a lot and I think it showed in the championship game.”

However Sawyer goes about handling his ace, Rochette came into the season ready to carry a full workload.

She spent much of her time in the offseason playing travel ball for the New Hampshire Comets and honing her craft on the 18U National Gold team for the New England Diamond Gems – a program that features some of the top softball players from Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont.

“I played a little bit in the fall, came back in the winter with hitting training and then pitching. I try to do that three times a week until the season starts,” said Rochette, who can also handle her own with the bat, hitting .403 with 23 runs and 10 RBI last season for the Tide.

“I definitely try putting more work into pitching, but then I forget about hitting so I put more work into that. It kind of evens out in the end of the winter. I try to remember that there’s not just pitching in the game,” Rochette said.

But it was Rochette’s talented arm that caught the attention of Christopher Newport University, the Virginia college she committed to over the summer and will attend this fall.

“It’s a great program, they were ranked No. 1 nationally this year in Division III and it’s a nice balance between academics and softball,” Rochette said. “I’m really looking forward to moving somewhere warmer and also playing competitively farther away.”

While Rochette will be dearly missed in Concord by this time next year, opponents will likely be happy to see her go.

“As she goes around and the weather gets warmer, she’s going to dominate some teams,” Sawyer said. “Whether she gets Gatorade (Player of the Year) again, I don’t know, because she might not have the innings she had last year or the wins. But they all know.”

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