December 20, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

BLOG: UMass football recruiting roundup: UMass signs DT, offers two kickers -

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

UMass President Robert Caret resigns to become chancellor of the University of Maryland system -

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Brandon Montour: ‘It felt great to be out there’ -

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

UMass falls to Northeastern in Brandon Montour’s debut -

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cady Lalanne continues to evolve as a potential outside shooting threat -

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

UMass hockey returns to action against Northeastern, Montour to make season debut -

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Demetrius Dyson remains hopeful despite rocky start to season -

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Former UMass soccer star Matt Keys aims to continue his career professionally -

Monday, December 15, 2014

Pierre-Louis, Dillard shine in UMass victory over Holy Cross -

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Passing, spacing improved in UMass victory -

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Prolific first half propels UMass past Canisius, 75-58 -

Saturday, December 13, 2014

UMass Faculty Senate hears ad hoc committee’s report on FBS football, shoots down contentious motion -

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Minutemen hope improved spacing will aid struggling half court offense -

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Divest UMass urges Board of Trustees to split with fossil fuel industry -

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cady Lalanne accustomed to dealing with increased attention -

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Front to Back: Week of Dec. 1, 2014 -

Monday, December 8, 2014

Chiarelli: UMass basketball running out of time to find its identity -

Monday, December 8, 2014

Minutewomen take care of business against American -

Monday, December 8, 2014

UMass women’s basketball handles American, 71-61 -

Sunday, December 7, 2014

UMass basketball downed by Florida Gulf Coast 84-75 -

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Minutewomen head to USF for invitational

No matter how successful the Massachusetts softball team is, it tends to struggle the most at the beginning of the season. At the same time last year, the Minutewomen came out of their second invitational of the season 2-3, but eventually won two straight games against Nebraska and DePaul.

No. 24 UMass (6-4) finds itself in the exact same position as last season and hopes to have the same result this weekend at the Southern Florida Under Armour Invitational. Pitcher Sara Plourde is coming off her best and worst game of the season during the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Leadoff Classic.

The sophomore followed up a 1-0 no-hitter against Illinois State by giving up 10 runs (four earned) against No. 18 Louisiana-Lafayette the next day. The Ragin Cajuns went on to a 14-0 drubbing over the Minutewomen.

UMass coach Elaine Sortino will have to expect her experienced team to get over its worst loss of the season if it expects to do well in Florida. It will be the first invitational of the season where the Minutewomen aren’t playing any teams ranked or receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Poll.

Sortino could not be reached for comment on this weekend’s invitational.

The only team with a record above .500 who the Minutewomen will face is Chattanooga, which won four of its last five games at the Frost Classic. Its only losses of the season were to Oklahoma, Michigan and Kentucky.

The Mocs (11-3) are led by Tiffany Baker, who plays all over the field (.410, five home runs, 12 runs batted in), in three categories. They are also deep in pitching, with four pitchers on staff with an earned run average of under 2.21.

Chattanooga’s ace is Brooke Loudermilk (0.83 ERA, 7-2), who already has five complete games this season. 

The four other teams expected to play UMass have a combined 10-19 record, with no team above .500. The Minutewomen will conclude the invitational on Sunday against Robert Morris, which is opening up its season this weekend and is looking to rebound from a performance last season where it was eliminated the first day of the Northeast Conference Tournament.

UMass will also play USF, host of this weekend’s invitational. The Bulls are coming off a three-game losing streak including an eight-inning night against Arizona State, who eventually edged them out with an 8-7 victory.

UMass will be the third ranked opponent USF plays this season. The Bulls (5-5) would have played No. 13 Georgia Tech at their home field on Feb. 14, but the game was cancelled.

This weekend will be the second time they have hosted an invitational. USF also opened its season at home and went 2-2 that weekend.

Unlike the Minutewomen, the Bulls don’t have a true No. 1 starter on their staff, but have rotated between Kirsten Gordon, Lindsey Richardson and Brittany Bowles. Richardson (3-1, 2.13 ERA) leads the team with 23 innings pitched, and has the most power on the team with 36 strikeouts.

USF is also a better all-around hitting team except for average, where UMass (.281) bats 20 points higher.

The top half of the lineup has been a strong point for the Minutewomen, with six players batting above .300. Outfielder Katie Bettencourt (.458) is the only batter currently hitting above .400.

For now, she has been filling in for Carly Normandin, who has one at-bat on the season and is sitting behind Audrey Boutin. The junior has started eight games as a designated player and is spending time in centerfield, which is Normandin’s position.

She is currently batting .238 with two RBIS.

Kyllie Magill, second basemen for UMass, has also been a solid contributer. She currently leads the team with nine runs and is second with six RBIS. 

Adam Miller can be reached at amiller@dailycollegian.com.

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