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Rochette homers twice as CNU opens NCAA play with 8-3 win over York College

Senior Abby Rochette had 2 home runs and sophomore Jamie Martin fanned 11 as the Captains won 8-3 over the Spartans in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Senior Abby Rochette crushed two home runs and sophomore Jamie Martin struck out 11 as Christopher Newport University opened the 2023 NCAA Division III Tournament Thursday with an 8-3 victory over York College of Pennsylvania.

Christopher Newport, the defending National Champions, built a 5-0 lead on a sunny and cool day on the CNU campus before the Spartans broke through with three runs in the sixth to cut the lead to two. Keith Parr's team would answer with three in the bottom of the sixth to account for the 8-3 final verdict. 

The Captains plated a run in the first inning without even recording a base hit. After two walks and a sacrifice bunt, junior Brooke Greaver reached on a fielders choice, scoring senior Bianca Palmer-Scott with the first run of the game. Another walk opened a fourth-inning rally, as senior Kensley Hess scored on a double off the bat of sophomore Kendall Bentley to make it 2-0. That's when Rochette came to the dish and crushed her first two-run shot of the day, her fifth long ball of the season, to push the lead to 4-0.

The Captains would add another single run in the fifth, as junior Brooke Childress drove home sophomore pinch-runner Brenna Morefield with an RBI single to make it a 5-0 lead.

In the circle, Martin sailed through the first five frames, allowing just one hit and retiring 15 straight Spartans. York would mount a rally in the sixth, scoring three times as shortstop Alyssa Harhigh doubled home two, and catcher Daphne Adams singled to score another to make it a 5-3 game.

CNU would answer immediately by plating three more in the home half of the sixth, and Rochette again had a lot to do with it. After Hess led off with a walk, Rochette cracked her second two-run shot of the day, and sixth home run of the season, to make it 7-3. Rochette, from Concord, New Hampshire, began her career at CNU as a pitcher and was 5-1 with an ERA of 2.61 over the last two seasons. This year, she has transitioned into a steady outfielder with plenty of pop in her bat, and has started all 37 games for CNU and has now raised her average to .284. Senior Nicole Apai would account for the final run of the game with an RBI double in the sixth, scoring junior Katie Currin, who had reached base with a pinch-hit single, and make the final verdict 8-3.

Martin earned the victory to improve to 10-4 on the season, throwing the first six innings and striking out 11 with no walks. Sophomore Kate Alger threw a scoreless seventh inning to finish up for the Captains. York starter Natalie Rietema took the loss to fall to 10-10.  

The Captains, now 27-10, will play Roanoke College on Friday at 12 noon at Captains Park as the four-team, double-elimination regional continues.

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