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No. 20 Minutewomen play to a 2-3 record at Leadoff Classic

Brian Tedder/CollegianThe Massachusetts softball team went 2-3 this past weekend of play at the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Leadoff Classic, with two of the defeats coming from nationally ranked teams.

Offensive Attack Lifts Louisiana over UMass

UMass ended play at the Leadoff Classic with a tough 14-0 loss to No. 18 Louisiana.

The Ragin Cajuns (10-5) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a wild pitch from Sara Plourde that allowed Erikka Murphy to score the first run for Louisiana.

The score would not change until the top of the fourth inning when the Ragin Cajuns’ offense took off and scored 13 runs. Christi Orgeron started off with a solo home run to left field. An error put Gabriele Bridges on base, followed by a single from Lana Bowers that set up a three-run home run from Taryn Broussard. The bases were loaded again due to a second error from the Minutewomen, a walk and a single. Melissa Verde singled to bring home two more Louisiana batters. Two players were left on base, setting up Orgeron’s second homerun of the inning, this time scoring three runs.

After Plourde gave up 10 runs, four of which were earned, Bailey Sanders came in as relief. Bridges hit a solo home run to right center, followed by a two RBI single from Vallie Gaspard and a RBI single from Murphy to end the offensive attack.

Pitcher Donna Bourgeois earned the win, allowing no runs on three hits and striking out six UMass batters. Plourde suffered her second loss of the season.  

The Minutewomen will return to action this weekend at the University of Southern Florida Under Armour Invitational.

No-Hitter Leads UMass

The Minutewomen bounced back in Game 4 of the Leadoff Classic, defeating Illinois State, 1-0. Plourde was credited with the win after pitching her second career no-hitter and tying a UMass record set by Danielle Henderson of 18 strikeouts in seven innings.

“My mindset was just to go after them with everything I had,” Plourde said.

Brandice Balschmitter still holds onto the record for the most strikeouts in a game when she struck out 19 opponents in eight innings.

Redbird’s (8-4) pitcher Megan Warner also had a strong showing, keeping the game scoreless until the sixth inning when the UMass broke through.

Meghan Carta started the bottom of the sixth inning with a double to left center. Jordan Storro singled to drive in pinch runner Jill Andrews to score the game-winning run. The single also served as Storro’s first career hit.

The no-hitter improved Plourde’s record to 5-1 for the season. Plourde has struck out 89 batters in 49.2 innings pitched.

“I think her endurance really paid off, she’s one of the strongest kids on the team,” UMass coach Elaine Sortino said. “She was really able to move the ball around effectively.”

Minutewomen fall to Missouri

On day two of the Leadoff classic, No. 6 Missouri drove in two late runs to defeat the Minutewomen, 2-1.

After three scoreless innings and strong pitching on both sides, the Minutewomen struck first in the top of the fourth. Michelle Libby singled to left field, followed by a Katie Bettencourt single that advanced Libby to third base. Audrey Boutin came through with another single to drive in Libby and take a 1-0 lead.

Missouri (7-2) came alive in the bottom of the fifth inning with a double and a walk to start off the inning. A wild pitch and a stolen base set up an RBI, followed by a single to score the second run.

UMass attempted a comeback in the bottom of the seventh with two players on base, but was stopped by relief pitcher Jana Hainey who was credited with the win.

Plourde was charged with her first loss of the season after allowing two runs on three hits.

UMass Offense Stuggles

Game 2 of Friday resulted in a 3-1 loss to North Carolina State after three early runs that the Maroon and White could not recover from.

Pitcher Sanders struggled against the Wolfpack (7-5), giving up three runs off of an RBI single and a two home runs from Stephanie Call. Plourde came in as relief for Sanders, striking out 12 opponents and allowing just one hit to keep North Carolina at three runs.

However, the Minutewomen could not generate enough offense to come back after the first inning. Whitney Williams doubled to center field, followed by a Meghan Carta single that brought home Williams and scored the lone run of the game for UMass.

Wolfpack pitcher Lindsay Campana earned the win for her team after a strong showing in the circle with 11 strikeouts and four hits allowed.

Magill lifts Minutewomen

A late two-run home run from Kyllie Magill proved to be the difference as No. 20 UMass defeated Mississippi State, 7-6, to start off the weekend at the Leadoff Classic.

The Bulldogs (7-3) took a 1-0 lead when Chelsea Bramlett doubled to left center to get on base first for her team. A wild pitch sent her to third base, followed by a passed ball that allowed her to score an unearned run.

The Minutewomen were quick to answer with three runs in the bottom of the first with a Michelle Libby double to tie up the game. Boutin followed with a single to bring home Libby and pitcher Plourde doubled to right field for her first career hit.

After Mississippi added a second run in the second inning, an Ali Bainbridge two-run home run in the third inning gave the Bulldogs a 4-3 lead.

A double-steal of second and home base from the Maroon and White in the bottom of the third scored Libby and tied the score until the eighth inning, where both teams would score a run.

The Bulldogs took a one-run lead again in the top of the ninth inning, however Magill came through for UMass with a two-run home run to win the game by a single run.

Plourde was credited with her fourth win of the season, striking out nine to help out the Minutewomen.

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

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