Souhegan softball team punches ticket to SNHU

AMHERST – Hailey Yabroudy and the top-seeded Sabers found themselves in an early hole Saturday during a Division II quarterfinal clash with No. 9 Merrimack Valley.

It didn’t take long for the Sabers to dig out.

Yabroudy ripped a two-out, two-strike pitch down the right-field line for a go-ahead, two-RBI triple in the third and Souhegan never relinquished the advantage en route to a 6-3 victory over the Pride (12-6).

“All season, they have responded to every challenge and adversity,” Souhegan coach Andrea Bruneau said. “I was not surprised by them maintaining their focus and continuing to play hard and not get down. They’ve proven already in other games that they can do that. You want to learn those lessons along the way and know that you can do it. I’m really proud of how they responded.”

The Sabers (15-2) will next face No. 4 Milford (16-3), a local rival and the defending champion. Milford coach Jim Rines coached the Sabers to a championship while Bruneau was a player in 2003.

“That will be an epic showdown,” Bruneau said of the Tuesday matchup at Southern New Hampshire University starting at 7 p.m. “I think it could go either way.

“We go way back,” Bruneau added of the relationship with Rines. “We know what to expect.”

The senior combination of Yabroudy and catcher Sam Cushing is a big reason why the Sabers are among the last four teams standing. Yabroudy’s triple in the bottom of the third gave Souhegan a 3-2 edge and she picked up the win in the circle by scattering 10 hits over seven innings. She struck out four and walked three.

Cushing belted a two-out pitch off the left-field fence for an RBI double in the fifth inning to provide Souhegan with a two-run edge before courtesy runner Callie McBride scooted home on an error for a 6-3 cushion.

“They’re the heart. They’re the battery controlling the game on defense,” Bruneau said of Cushing and Yabroudy. “Those two have been phenomenal.”

Madison Robicheau was also a major factor Saturday with a pair of base hits and a run scored to go with stellar defense at shortstop. Lucy Stover and Mary Rotthoff crossed the plate for the Sabers, as well.

Yabroudy is excited for the opportunity to play for the right to go to the championship.

“It really means a lot,” the Souhegan senior said. “This is the closest team I’ve ever been on in my time at Souhegan and it feels really good to know that we’re all working as hard as we can.”

Merrimack Valley received a strong start from Sam Hodkinson, who struck out four and walked two over the first five innings. She only allowed four hits and one earned run as errors came back to haunt the Pride. Katelyn Hill was 3 for 4 with an RBI triple to pace the Pride offense.

“Their entire team could hit really well,” Yabroudy said of Merrimack Valley. “Just having my defense behind me making those plays is really what did it.”