Sabers get the best of Cavaliers

AMHERST – Hailey Yabroudy admitted to being nervous before her start against Hollis Brookline Tuesday afternoon.

How could she not be?

The Souhegan High School pitcher, only a sophomore, was facing a rival Cavaliers team riding a seven-game winning streak, one that teed off on her in the teams’ first meeting in April.

Four pitches in, the game’s first batter was gone via strikeout. So were Yabroudy’s nerves.

Yabroudy calmly tossed seven dominant, drama-free innings to lead the Sabers to a surprising 6-1 home win over HB. It marked Souhegan’s (9-6) fifth win in the last six games and snapped the Cavaliers’ impressive streak.

The sophomore needed just 77 pitches to get through the game, holding HB to one run on two hits, two walks and six strikeouts.

“Once I got in there I felt relaxed and I just had fun,” Yabroudy said. “When I’m on the mound I take deep breaths and I just think about what I need to do and how my team is going to be there to back me up.”

Sabers coach Andrea Bruneau didn’t know what to expect from Tuesday’s game after the 13-6 loss her team suffered in an April 22 meeting with HB. She certainly didn’t expect such dominance from her starter.

“She was just lights out,” Bruneau said. “When we played them up there, it was a little different. She’s been strong all season, but they got around on her a little bit. For her to come around and control the game like that was awesome.”

Yabroudy said the biggest difference between the first meeting and Tuesday’s was her pitch location. She said she attacked the outside of the plate the first time and it failed. Tuesday she targeted the inside corners while mixing in some outside pitches to stun their hitters.

“Maybe they were expecting the outside pitch because that’s what we threw last time,” Yabroudy said.

“She’s a great pitcher, but we’ve seen her before, we’ve hit off her before,” Cavaliers coach Erin Sheehan said of Yabroudy. “Hitting is contagious and if no one is really hitting it’s hard to get stuff going.”

Yabroudy was locked in a pitcher’s duel with HB starter Ashley Skey through the first three-and-a-half innings. The Sabers then broke through for three runs in the fourth, two in the fifth and one in the sixth to put the game out of reach.

Yabroudy led off the bottom of the fourth with a single, and scored the game’s first run on an RBI knock from Hannah Cochran. Samantha Allen doubled Souhegan’s lead when she scored on a wild pitch. Cochran scored from third on an error at second base.

Allen, who went 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI, drove in Jordan Catanuso with a double to right-center in the fifth. Samantha Cushing followed with a single to score Allen and extend the lead to 5-0.

Bruneau said the runs were overdue for the Sabers after hard-hit balls right at fielders in the first three innings resulted in no runs.

“I felt like we were hitting well from the get-go. … I knew that we would get some to drop in,” she said. “Once we get baserunners, we can do some fun stuff because we have some fast girls and some who can bunt. I like to mix it up a little bit. And at some point you just need the timely hit.”

Natalie Paquin led off the sixth with a single and scored on a pair of errors to give HB its only run. Kaley Ahern answered with a leadoff triple in the bottom half and scored three batters later when Lauren McCormick’s grounder to short was misplayed by Stephanie Buchanan, her second error of the inning.

Sheehan said Tuesday’s loss was a good wake-up call for her team with the tournament approaching.

“We were on a winning streak and maybe we were starting to get too overconfident, so something like this is great before a playoff game to bring us down to earth and show us that we’re not unstoppable, we’re not unbeatable,” she said.