Rochard overcomes pregame thumb injury to lift Warhill softball to victory

JAMES CITY – Warhill softball coach Tom Bunn thinks catcher Jasmine Ortiz is the Lions’ backup pitcher. He said he just hopes he doesn’t have to find out for sure.

Bunn came much closer to finding out Thursday before Warhill's 11-1, five-inning home win over Lafayette than he would like when ace Virginia Tech recruit Keely Rochard re-aggravated a broken thumb on her right throwing hand that she suffered in basketball season. There was blood, lots of it, and the junior needed a heavy application of medical tape and super glue to mend the wound – all 10 minutes before her first pitch was scheduled.

“We need to hit so I don’t devote a lot of time to our backup pitcher (in practice),” Bunn said.

An honest answer if there ever was one.

Luckily for Bunn and Warhill (9-1), Rochard got it together and pitched a typical gem, striking out 12 batters.

“It hurt,” Rochard said, “but I just pushed through it and my defense was really good tonight, too, so I knew I could rely on them.”

The ironic thing about the Lions’ defense: Rochard, who Bunn calls a “strikeout pitcher,” is so good it might actually hinder the players behind her; They aren’t used to the ball being hit into play.

In a recent win over New Kent, Rochard struck out 17 and recorded a couple of put-outs herself. That’s all but two of the game's outs, but New Kent still scratched some runs on errors.

Bunn said, “We just really try to get them to buy into, ‘You have got to be ready every pitch.’”

Bunn had the Lions running disciplinary sprints after that April 12 win and since then, they’ve responded with better effort and enthusiasm.

“We’re getting better at our defense,” Rochard said. “We’re being more aware of where the plays are, getting the ball in. Hitting wise, we have good streaks, bad streaks.”

Rochard, Jewel Walters and Kieran McClure each had two hits Thursday and Walters gave Warhill an early lead with a leadoff over-the-fence home run.

Jacquelyn Boesler tied it up for Lafayette with a solo shot of her own in the second, but the Lions struck for one in the second and fourth and eight in the fifth.

Warhill has an out-of-district contest with Mathews Monday before a big Bay Rivers game Tuesday against York.

Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.

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