Hit Parade

Senior outfielder's plate approach leads to success

by Mike Lucas / Beacon Staff • April 2, 2014

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In her sophomore season, Rochford has the fourth-highest batting average in Division 3 softball.
Courtney Tharp / Beacon Archive
In her sophomore season, Rochford has the fourth-highest batting average in Division 3 softball.
Courtney Tharp / Beacon Archive

Brittany Rochford “loves to hit the ball,” and she’s pretty darn good at it.

The senior captain isn’t just one of the best hitters on Emerson’s softball team — she’s one of the best hitters on the Division 3 level.

“When I think of hitting, it’s mainly a game between [the pitcher] and me,” Rochford said. “No one else on the field matters.”

As a sophomore, Rochford batted .517, the fourth-highest average in the nation. In her junior season, Rochford regressed, but still posted a .385 batting average. Through 19 games this year, the senior visual and media arts major from Irvine, California is hitting .453 which ranks seventh in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference.

Coach Phil McElroy thinks Rochford’s success at the plate comes from Rochford’s discipline at the plate.

“She had a hitting coach that really taught her the mental game of hitting and how to approach each pitch,” McElroy said. “There really hasn’t been a kid who has come through here who has been able to put together that with the physical skills.”

Rochford agreed with her coach’s assessment.

“It’s not guessing what [the pitcher] is going to, but putting pressure on [the pitcher] to make the right choices, and react to it,” she said.

Over the duration of her sophomore and junior seasons, Rochford collected 107 hits . A 50-hit senior season — she has 29 hits already with at least 16 games to go — will put her over the 200 career hit plateau, something very few players ever accomplish, according to McElroy.

“To average 50 hits per year, to do that it means you’re getting on base once a game, and a lot of times it’s twice a game,” said McElroy. “I think what’s even more impressive is that she doesn’t walk often so for her to have that on-base percentage means she’s hitting the crap out of the ball.”

Although Rochford is within reach of the 200-hit plateau, it isn’t the first thing on her mind, she said. However, she does realize the magnitude of what it would mean.

“It’d be a huge accomplishment to achieve that. I know the hitters who have done it before me were excellent,” Rochford said.

Rochford bats in the leadoff spot in the Lions lineup and reaches on base half the time. Her .500 on-base percentage is tied for the team lead, and that’s something Rochford takes pride in.

“I know I’m doing my job right,” Rochford said with a chuckle. “As a leadoff hitter you’re supposed to get on base and start off the team that way.”

For Shannon Torosian, senior captain, starting shortstop, and a suitemate of Rochford’s, hitting behind her in the lineup makes life “a million times easier.” 

“In my eyes, [when Rochford is on base] the pressure is on the pitcher and the defense to do their job. All I have to do is hit the ball,” Torosian said. “If no one’s on base, I tend to get a little more nervous and think and focus about getting on.”

As good as Rochford is at the plate, McElroy says it’s her mental approach that separates her from the rest of the group. 

“She’s probably the most intelligent hitter that we’ve ever had,“ he said.

Despite her personal success on the field, Rochford still puts the team first.

“I want to win,” she said. “I want to prove to the NEWMAC as a team that we belong there.”

So far, the Lions are 0-4 in NEWMAC play but are have a 10-9 overall record. Up next for the Lions is a Friday double-header against NEWMAC foe Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who have a 1-1 conference record.