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January 13, 2017

Minutewomen go 4-1 in opening tournament

The Massachusetts’ softball team started the season out strong going 4-1 at the Florida International University Combat Classic over the weekend.

The Minutewomen (4-1) faced Providence on Friday to start the season, showing impressive offensive play in a 14-3 victory over PC.

An unearned Katelyn Revens run, resulting from two UMass errors, gave the Friars (0-4) an early lead in the first inning.

Kyllie Magill tied the game at the bottom of the first with a solo home run, followed by a double from Sarah Reeves. A Michelle Libby single to left field drove in pinch runner Stephanie Mix, who scored from second base.

A Magill single and Reeves’ second double of the game tacked on an additional two runs in the second inning.

UMass’ offensive attack continued in the third inning, scoring six runs off of five hits. Whitney Williams singled to drive in Teea Rodgers, followed by a Magill two RBI single. Back-to-back home runs by Reeves and Libby earned the final three runs of the inning.

Providence wrapped up its scoring at the top of the fourth inning from an Ava Pandiani double.

A double from Matthew, single from Libby and a third baseman error led to UMass’ final four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.

UMass Coach Elaine Sortino felt this game showed the talent and depth in her team’s lineup.

“I thought we did a great job at the plate and a decent job on the mound. We really hit the ball,” Sortino said.

Bailey Sanders did not allow a run in the fifth inning, ensuring the Minutewomen victory. Sanders had a strong showing at the mound, allowing just three hits while striking out five.

Come from behind win

UMass came back from a 4-0 deficit in Saturday’s first game behind dominating pitching from Sara Plourde to take the 5-4 victory over Illinois-Chicago (3-2).

A leadoff triple and a Brooke Frydendall two RBI double started the inning for UIC. After a scoreless second inning, the Flames took advantage of an error by the Minutewomen and increased its lead by two with an Ashley Hewett double to left field.

The Minutewomen answered with a three run homer by Libby in the bottom of the third to bring UMass within one run of UIC.

The score remained 4-3 until the bottom of the sixth inning, when sophomore Katie Bettencourt singled to start off the inning, then proceeded to score from first base off of a Meghan Carta double to tie the game.

A single from Magill, double from Reeves and an intentionally walked Libby loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh. Jessica Serio came in as a pinch hitter for her first UMass appearance, driving the ball towards the third baseman who mishandled the ball and allowed Magill to score the game winning run.

“It felt good being able to come from behind, it gave us confidence,” Sortino said. “It was definitely a character builder.”

Sortino recognized Plourde, who struck out 12 UIC players, for her strong performance on the mound.

“I absolutely give her a lot of credit,” Sortino said. “It’s nice to get 12 outs without having to make a play; it takes pressure off of the defense.”

Untimely errors hurt UMass

UMass fell to Southern Illinois (3-2) in Saturday’s second game, 12-2.

The Minutewomen took the lead at the top of the first inning after an error by the shortstop allowed Magill to score from second base. The Maroon and White scored again in the third inning from a Serio RBI single, however, they could not generate offense for the remainder of the game.

SIU took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the first behind a double by Natalie Weissinger after Sanders walked three batters. The Salukis furthered its lead to 7-1 in the second inning with four runs that stemmed from five walks and two singles.

“I think it was a really tough game early in the season,” Sortino said. “I left her [Sanders] out there because I thought she could get through it.”

With two outs and one RBI for the Salukis, Rodgers made a costly error at third base that allowed a second run and kept the inning alive. A second error by left fielder Libby gave SIU two more runs. A final RBI in the bottom of the fourth gave the Salukis the only win over the Minutewomen in the classic.

“The two errors were extremely untimely, and we could have held them” Sortino said. “Defense is the name of the game, and we needed to finish it in the field.”

Plourde sweeps day 3 in Miami

After inclement weather postponed the North Carolina State (2-2) game on Friday, the Minutewomen continued play on Sunday, claiming a 1-0 victory.

Bettencourt hit her first career home run in the bottom of the second on Friday, scoring the single run for UMass.

The game started at the bottom of the fourth inning on Sunday, with Plourde pitching the fifth inning for the Minutewomen and sweeping the Wolfpack.

In the Minutewomen’s final game of the FIU Classic against its host, Bettencourt stepped up again for her team with a double in the fourth inning to take the lead.

Pinch runner Mix scored from first base, followed shortly by Bettencourt, who came around to score a second run due to an overthrown ball from the catcher.

The Golden Panthers (3-1) answered with a solo home run from Ashley McClain in the bottom of the fourth to bring FIU within a run.

The Maroon and White offense came alive again in the fifth inning, when a Reeves single drove in Matthew and Williams. Serio finished with a fly ball that allowed Magill to score a fifth run for UMass.

McClain hit a two-run homer in the sixth bringing the score to 5-3. However, Plourde struck out the final batter, her 15th of the game, in the seventh inning to give the Minutewomen the victory in Game 5.

“FIU is a very strong hitting team and we shut them down,” Sortino said. “They’re [UMass] starting to know who they are and that’s the most important thing.”

Geena Lombardi can be reached at glombard@student.umass.edu.

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