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Concord takes first title since 2009

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 10. 2018 8:45PM
Concord High School and Spaulding High School faced off in the NHIAA Division I Softball Championship Saturday afternoon at the SNHU fields.The Concord High team celebrates their NHIAA Division I Softball Tournament championship. (BRUCE TAYLOR/UNION LEADER)

HOOKSETT — Both Concord and Spaulding of Rochester made uncharacteristic moves that helped and hurt their causes at different points of Saturday’s Division I softball championship.

The end of the game followed the odd pattern as third-seeded Concord scored on a fielder’s choice with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to take a 5-4 walk-off win over fourth-seeded Spaulding at Southern New Hampshire University.

The Crimson Tide (18-3), who are champions for the first time since 2009, had runners on first and third for Abby Corbett, who roped a ground ball to third that Abby Rochette immediately broke for home on. Instead of going for an inning-ending play on Corbett at first, Spaulding (16-5) tried to cut down Rochette at the plate, but the offline throw came in just after Rochette slid in.

“I thought they were going to first and I was kind of scared there,” said Corbett of the final play. “My first base coach said, ‘You did it,’ but I didn’t believe her until everyone started running towards me.”

Concord made a questionable call of its own in the top of the ninth as it intentionally walked Geana Torres to load the bases with one out. Torres burned the Crimson Tide with a two-run homer in the first inning, which led to Concord coach Duke Sawyer walking her intentionally two other times prior to the free pass in the ninth. The move paid off as Rochette, who earned the complete-game win, got a pop out and a strikeout to escape trouble and set Concord up for the win in the next half-inning.

“I wasn’t going to let (Torres) beat us again,” Sawyer said. “If the bases were loaded (when Torres stepped in), I don’t know what I would’ve done. I probably would’ve still walked her and forced in a run, to tell you the truth. She’s just a great player.

“I didn’t want that one person to beat us, but fortunately Abby (Rochette) and my girls bailed me out there and a few other times.”

The game wouldn’t have gone to extra innings had Corbett not tied things at 4-4 in the sixth inning with a two-run homer. The Red Raiders got up 4-0 after two and had a 4-2 lead heading into the sixth.

“I cleared my head and really knew I wanted that pitch,” Corbett said. “I saw the first one go through right down the middle. I was looking for something belt-high, middle-in. When I got it, I just drilled that one out.”

Corbett (three RBIs), Rochette (one RBI) and Autumn Nudd (one RBI) each finished with two hits and a run scored for Concord. Brittany Faucher had a hit and an RBI to join Torres atop Spaulding’s offense.

Spaulding’s early work against Rochette was a surprise, but the D-I Pitcher of the Year found her bearings with seven scoreless frames after the early runs. The junior scattered six hits and walked seven while still fanning 13.

“She stopped throwing her rise ball,” Sawyer said. “I mean, it wasn’t working and they scored a run off of it early when she threw it over. I think she really just started moving it back and forth and started to use her screwball. She got a better feel for that as the game went along.”

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