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High School Baseball/ Softball: Astros making strides under coach Abbott

Joe Duball and Rodger Brown
April 26. 2018 10:32PM
Pinkerton softball coach Kristen Abbott huddles with her team during practice on Tuesday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)



AS THE list of Division I softball contenders takes shape this spring, Pinkerton Academy of Derry is emerging as a force at 6-1 on the year. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the school’s reputation for strong athletics, but the quick start for the Astros is part of what has been a quiet rebuild since Kristen Abbott took over as head coach four years ago.

The Astros won four games in 2015, Abbott’s first season, but snuck into the playoffs as the tournament’s final seed. That surprise appearance turned into momentum as they managed to knock off top-seeded Spaulding of Rochester in the first round before bowing out in the second round.

The playoff upset proved to be the first of many steps forward as Pinkerton has doubled its win total in each of the last two seasons, including a 14-win campaign last year.

“From (the upset in 2015) forward, I’ve just been about changing the culture,” Abbott said. “You see this game these days dominated by a pitcher. We have great pitching, but not really that No. 1. So the past three or four years have been about building a team that does everything, and this group here is all in.”

Early results suggest the Astros are achieving the balance they are striving for. Offense, defense and pitching have each played a hand at one point or another in Pinkerton’s five wins.

The constant through Pinkerton’s early slate has been its ability to score runs. The Astros have scored five runs or more in every contest thus far and popped off for nine runs or more in three games.

Monday’s win over previously unbeaten Alvirne of Hudson was a product of manufactured runs, showing the Astros can produce beyond swinging a powerful bat. However, the Astros do pride themselves on carrying a potent heart of the order with Hannah Sundberg, Alyssa DiMauro and Bri Janulewicz. Additionally, Abbott has Jackie Cerri and Hannah Frazier finding their comfort zones atop the Astros’ order.

“We have some girls that look little but have a good bat,” Abbott said. “Those first couple girls in the order are getting on now, which is showing with our on-base percentage, and then you get somebody like Alyssa up behind them, which gives her a great opportunity at RBIs and moving runners.”

While Abbott stresses the value of team, it’s hard to ignore the elite talent DiMauro is showcasing. The graduation of All-State shortstop Abby Amato would’ve been quite the blow to the Astros had DiMauro, a sophomore, not slid right into Amato’s shoes.

DiMauro’s bat is impressive, given her discipline and knack for squaring up most balls, but her defense is something to marvel at. The sophomore patrolled left field last year with Amato in the fold, but moving into shortstop this season was an easy decision for Abbott.

“She has a cannon for an arm,” Abbott said. “She has the ability to adjust and she’s always looking to get better. You will not see her settle and that’s really why I think she is as good as she is right now.”

The good feelings the Astros are generating will come in handy as the season goes on. The make-or-break portion of Pinkerton’s schedule will come at the start of May, where it will play four road games in seven days. That swing includes trips to perennial contenders Londonderry, which served the Astros their only loss thus far, and Salem, as well as an up-and-coming Keene squad. If that wasn’t enough of a test for the Astros, they’ll also get an early taste of playoff softball with late-season tilts against Winnacunnet of Hampton and Spaulding of Rochester, which both sit in front of Pinkerton in the standings.

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FOR Gilford baseball’s Adrian Siravo and Concord softball’s Abby Rochette, holding opponents hitless is becoming the standard.

Both pitchers tossed their second no-hitter of the season this week after each did so in their team’s season openers.

Siravo blanked Somersworth 6-0 on Tuesday for his second no-hitter. The righty struck out 11 and got a highlight-reel catch from Cody Boucher in the third inning to preserve the no-hit bid. The effort comes after Siravo no-hit Winnisquam of Tilton with 14 strikeouts in an 11-0 season-opening win. The sophomore has amassed 33 strikeouts through three starts, helping the Golden Eagles to a 4-0 start.

Rochette’s second no-hitter also came on Tuesday when the Crimson Tide run-ruled Merrimack in five innings. Concord also shortened Rochette’s first no-hitter against Bishop Guertin of Nashua in the Crimson Tide’s season opener. Rochette, who shared pitching duties last season, struck out 14 in five innings. Concord outscored its opponents 27-0 in Rochette’s two gems.

Beyond Siravo and Rochette, there were four other no-hitters reported this week. Those joining the mix were Exeter’s Bobby Cliche, White Mountains of Whitefield’s Braxton Brown, Newmarket’s Nate Goodman and Goffstown’s Connor Hujsak.

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A LACK of offense has been a problem for the Londonderry baseball team during its 2-5 start in Division I, but it hasn’t been the team’s only problem.

The Londonderry pitching staff has issued more walks (42) than it has strikeouts (39). In their last game the Lancers walked 12 in a 14-0 loss to Exeter.

“I’d say that’s No. 1 on the list of things we have to fix,” Londonderry coach Brent Demas said. “I really thought pitching would have been our strength, but some of our guys just haven’t found it yet.”

Londonderry has been limited to eight runs in its five losses — the Lancers have been outscored 37-8 in those five games — and have outscored their opponents 14-6 in their two victories.

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ALTHOUGH MOST Division I softball teams are no more than one-third of the way through their schedule, there are no unbeaten teams remaining in the league. In addition, only two teams — Manchester Memorial and defending champion Bishop Guertin — have yet to win a game. The signs are pointing to an unpredictable postseason tournament. … Bedford and Exeter, programs that met in last year’s Division I baseball championship game, have put up some impressive numbers thus far this season. Bedford is 6-0 and has outscored its opponents 50-2. Other than a hiccup against Concord, when it surrendered a 5-0 lead, Exeter has been dominant. The Blue Hawks, who played at Trinity on Thursday, outscored teams 43-0 in their first four wins. The Bulldogs and Blue Hawks are scheduled to meet in Exeter on May 9. … Campbell softball has outscored its opponents 56-6 during its 4-0 start in Division III. … Daniel Trzepacz has three home runs in Souhegan of Amherst baseball’s first four games this season. The sophomore is one of a handful of holdovers from the Sabers club that made it to the Division II baseball title game last season. He went under the radar as a freshman with several D-I college-bound players in the everyday lineup, but Trzepacz is still thriving in a more prominent role this season.

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Softball Top 10

1. Milford (3-0)

2. Winnacunnet (6-1)

3. Londonderry (6-1)

4. Pinkerton (5-1)

5. Spaulding (4-1)

6. Plymouth (4-1)

7. Pembroke (4-1)

8. Salem (4-2)

T-9. Campbell (4-0)

T-9. Mascenic (4-0)

Baseball Top 10

1. Bedford (6-0)

2. Concord (7-1)

3. Exeter (4-1)

4. Goffstown (5-0)

5. John Stark (4-0)

6. Nashua North (5-1)

7. Bishop Guertin (5-1)

8. Windham (3-1)

9. Portsmouth (3-1)

10. Spaulding (4-2)

High School Baseball/Softball appears Fridays in the New Hampshire Union Leader during the season. To reach Roger Brown or Joe Duball, e-mail rbrown@unionleader.com or jduball@unionleader.com.


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