High School Sports

Rochelle hopes to hit Heritage softball to next round

Heritage's Imani Rochelle (23) pitches during Rolesville's softball game at Heritage on Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Heritage won the game 5-1.
Heritage's Imani Rochelle (23) pitches during Rolesville's softball game at Heritage on Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Heritage won the game 5-1. newsobserver.com

Heritage junior Imani Rochelle entered this season with a little more pressure than most players in the state. Rochelle was on a 20-game hit streak when the Huskies lost in the playoffs a year ago, which was tied for 15th all-time in N.C. High School Athletic Association history.

She added three more games to it before it ended on March 6 in the most unceremonious of ways – four walks in a 10-2 win against Knightdale. It was a little upsetting, she said, but it wasn’t affecting her approach at the plate.

“It kind of gave me something to work towards, but it’s not what I go up there thinking about,” Rochelle said.

Rochelle has followed up a stellar sophomore season, in which she also tied the state record for triples in one game with three, with another strong year.

She is hitting .389 – fifth on the team – with five home runs with 26 RBIs and the Huskies are in the third round of the 4A playoffs. Heritage hosts powerhouse D.H. Conley on Tuesday.

Heritage (22-2-1) coach Mark Downing said he’s surprised when Rochelle gets out.

“She is a really good strong hitter,” Downing said. “Any time she gets up, you feel like the ball will get parked out there in the street.”

But he’s also proud of the way she’s adjusted to the way teams are pitching to her.

“They’ve been walking her a lot, so you get out of a rhythm, and it’s hard to get into it sometimes. But she stuck with it,” Downing said.

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