Souhegan softball knocked out early by ConVal

AMHERST – The Souhegan High School softball team did everything it could to beat ConVal pitcher Courtney Fisher in Wednesday’s Division II preliminary-round game. Unfortunately for the third-seeded Sabers, they also found ways to beat themselves.

Souhegan made five errors, leading to five unearned runs for the No. 14 Cougars, as the defending division champions knocked off the Sabers 8-6 in the opening game of the tournament.

“I think that (defense) hurt us a lot,” Souhegan coach Andrea Bruneau said. “We gave them some extra bases and some free outs, and in a close game, that’s the difference maker. We’re a little better than that.”

The loss came despite Souhegan (12-5) hitting Fisher, who is closing in on 800 career strikeouts, well late in the game. The Sabers pounded out 11 hits, nine of which came in the final three innings, including five in a four-run fifth that saw Lauren McCormick (2 for 4, two RBIs) and Abrie Davis hit back-to-back home runs.

“We’ve hit the ball really well this season,” Bruneau said. “Scoring six runs off that pitcher is pretty good. The bats were there, the defense wasn’t, unfortunately.”

The solo shot by Davis (3 for 3, two RBIs) gave Souhegan a 5-4 lead that would prove to be short-lived.

The Cougars (7-10) had the bases loaded with one out in the top of the sixth when Emmasae Hallen hit a grounder to shortstop Val Mukai. The throw home would have been on time to get the out, but it was up the third base line, getting past the catcher McCormick and allowing Taylor Guay to score.

But pitcher Hannah Cochran forgot to cover home on the wild throw and Sasha Brock came in to put ConVal back on top.

Fisher returned the favor, though, as she grounded into a fielder’s choice for the second out, but left the field thinking that it was the third out, and then became the third out.

The senior didn’t take the play with her onto the field. Despite giving up the tying run in the sixth, she worked out of a jam in both that inning and the seventh.

“Her and I have been together for six years and we had a conversation in between (innings) and we made a couple of adjustments,” ConVal coach Jim Coppo said. “We knew coming here that it was a mutual respect for each other and the team that made the least amount of errors was probably going to walk out of here a winner. We just didn’t quit when it was easy to quit.”

Brianna Lindsay led off the top of the seventh for ConVal with a walk and Kassidy Green tried to bunt her to second, but Green popped the ball up toward the circle. Davis charged in from third but the ball landed between her and Hailey Yabroudy, who opened the seventh in the circle in relief of Cochran, and both runners were safe.

Yabroudy battled back to get two outs, and twice ConVal was down to its last strike in the inning, but a walk and a single by Brock put the Cougars up 8-6.

“That bunt was painful,” Bruneau said. “That’s a possible double play and it clears the bases. Then you’re just playing for one run (in the bottom of the seventh), which is a lot less pressure. That was a big play and it was a weird little ball.”

Souhegan got back-to-back one out singles from Cori Sousa and Yabroudy, but Fisher battled back to get the final two outs and send ConVal to the quarterfinals. The Cougars defeated No. 7 Plymouth 2-0 Saturday to return to the semifinals.

“We knew it was going to be a battle because they are a well-coached team and they’ve got some nice players,” Coppo said. “We’re just proud to get out with a win.”