Cony coach Rocky Gaslin can’t think of anything Arika Brochu couldn’t do on a softball field.

“She had the whole game down — defense, running, hitting and pitching — the whole package,” he said.

A two-time Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Player of the Year and 2015 Miss Maine Softball finalist, Brochu’s all-around skill and competitiveness have earned her the 2015 Kennebec Journal Softball Player of the Year.

The only thing Brochu lacked as a junior in 2014 was peace of mind. Each game, each pitch, was critical to her future as her college suitors were lining up.

“I had a lot of pressure on myself junior year,” Brochu said. “I tried so hard to do my best, but it didn’t come out as well as I thought it was going to. I think this year, knowing we were going to be a young team, I knew I couldn’t put so much pressure on myself as I did last year, even though the circumstances were a little bit different.”

Deciding on Saint Anselm College took a lot off her mind as she approached her senior year.

“I had nothing to lose; that’s how I thought of it,” she said. “I just wanted to enjoy my last season, and I did.”

Being the only senior on the team was a mixed blessing. Brochu knew it would mean greater responsibilities for her, but she didn’t hesitate to ask for help.

“We were young, but I had already bonded with some of the girls from field hockey season,” she said. “There were quite a few that played field hockey with me, so I knew them coming into the season and it wasn’t a bunch of new faces, which helped a lot.”

“She was a very good leader, verbally and on the field,” Gaslin said. “The kids really looked up to her, being the only senior.”

Brochu’s leadership was put to the test very early. Cony lost its season-opener, 17-4, committing 12 errors behind her. It was the kind of embarrassing loss that could send the season into a downward spiral. But a little bit of perspective helped Brochu and her teammates put the rough start behind them quickly.

“If I go up there and show them, alright, I just had a bad pitching inning but I’m going to come in and be more relaxed at the plate then they’ll be, like, okay, she can do it, so I can do it,” she said.

“After the first game, I had to focus on a few different things,” she added, “not just the win, but getting something out of the experience. And that led to better experiences, which led to wins.”

It led to 13 wins in the regular season and a trip to the Eastern A semifinals. Brochu finished 11-3 in the regular season with a 1.01 ERA, 83 strikeouts and 10 walks.

Brochu never allowed more than one earned run in a game, a feat she chalks up to mixing her pitches up more and using more of the strike zone. She credits a workout with the St. Anselm softball team, and her Maine Thunder travel teammate since age 12, former Scarborough and current St. Anselm catcher Megan Murrell, with getting her to use outside change-ups more than trying to handcuff hitters inside.

As a hitter, she rarely got cheated. She hit .604, drove in 19 runs and scored 29. She also hit five home runs, establishing a new school career record with 18 home runs.

Brochu was a tough out because of her mental toughness as much as her quick bat. She credits Gaslin and his coaching staff for sharpening her focus.

“They pushed me to do my best, in all different aspects — the mental part of the game, coming up with a big hit when I need one, closing the door on a bad inning or an inning where it’s a nail-biter,” she said. “I’d say they definitely helped me through these last four years. I grew a lot because of them.”

Gaslin can think of one thing Brochu lacks on a softball field, by the way — an equivalent.

“She’s a very special player, the kind that don’t come around very often,” he said.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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