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  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    The pitching rubber for girls high school softball has been moved back three feet to be in accordance with college rules.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Bishop Guertin's Katie Haghdan reaches out for a backhand grab during Friday afternoon's game against Alvirne.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Bishop Guertin's second baseman, Sammie Powers chases after a loose ball as Alvirne's Chelsey Drew slides safely into second, during Friday afternoon's game at BG.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Bishop Guertin's Jacklyn Dubois forced out during Friday afternoon's game at BG against Alvirne.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Alvirne's Katie Donovan dives for a ground ball hit just out of her reach during Friday's game at BG.
Saturday, April 30, 2011

Even with changes, pitching still key to winning in softball

Gary Fitz

The primary reason the pitching rubber in high school softball was moved back 3 feet this spring was safety.

On a screaming line drive hit back up the middle, the pitcher has a split second more time to protect herself. On inside pitches that stray a little too far inside, batters have that same split second to avoid getting hit.

But the ancillary result of moving the distance from rubber to plate from 40 to 43 feet was to add more offense to a pitching dominated game that often needs it.

According to several area coaches, contact is up, the necessity for solid defense is amplified and generally more runs are being scored.

But when you face a pitcher like Alvirne junior Taylor Carbone, like the Bishop Guertin girls did on Friday afternoon, the only conclusion is any change in the game is subtle, at best.

In was a typical performance for one of the state’s top pitchers, a complete game shutout, three hits, nine strikeouts and not a single walk. An ever-improving Cardinals team, seriously depleted by vacation week family trips, succumbed to Carbone and the Broncos 5-0.

If the new pitching distance has loosened up the offense in general, it hasn’t taken much of a bite out of Carbone, whose ERA shrank to a miniscule 0.36 with Friday’s performance. She’s struck out 100 batters, walked nine and allowed just 24 hits in 58 innings so far this spring.

“To be honest, I don’t see much difference at all,” said Bishop Guertin junior catcher Jacklyn Dubois, who had two of her team’s three hits. “If anything, it gives Taylor’s pitches more time to break.”

Carbone shrugs off the difference as well. A teammate of Dubois in summer softball, she’s been throwing from 43 feet for a couple of summers.

“It definitely lets the ball break more,” Carbone said. “Which makes it a little trickier to hit, but at the same time you get more time to see the pitch.”

Carbone saw them pretty well on Friday, hitting the ball hard four times and getting a pair of hits to lift her batting average to .470.

Alvirne improved to 7-2 on Friday and they are definitely in it to win it. And overall, the best teams are still pretty stingy when it comes to giving up runs.

Unbeaten Salem has allowed eight runs in eight games so far. Unbeaten Londonderry has allowed just five runs in seven games.

So much for the offensive explosion.

“There has been more contact, more hitting, higher scores in our games,” said Bishop Guertin coach Myia Yates, whose team fell to 4-3 and was shut out twice with three quarters of its starting infield missing this week.

“I’m not sure that’s been true across the league.”

The bottom line is softball remains pitcher driven and if you don’t have a dominating pitcher your chances of winning a title are, as ever, next to nil.

Gary Fitz can be reached at 594-6469 or gfitz@nashuatelegraph.com.