Striking out eight batters and allowing just six hits was not enough from starter Sara Plourde as the Massachusetts softball team fell to Long Island, 2-0, on the final day of the San Diego Classic II. The Minutewomen went 4-3 at the classic and improved to 15-7 for the season.
The 49ers (14-13) scored its two runs in the second and sixth innings with the first coming off of a throwing error by shortstop Whitney Williams. The second and final run was scored after three walks and an RBI single by Ashley Levine.
UMass’ offense fell short against Long Island with zero runs earned on three hits. However, Williams hit her team-leading seventh double of the season, along with Kylie Magill and Audrey Boutin contributing a hit each.
Plourde broke school records on Game 1 of Saturday, striking out 22 batters and allowing one hit in nine innings pitched. Former starter Brandice Balschmitter previously held the school record with 19 strikeouts.
“I felt pretty good,” Plourde said. “I felt like I was just going after them, and I had my team behind me.”
The hit from No. 22 Texas A&M in the bottom of the ninth inning proved to be the difference as the Aggies took a 1-0 victory.
Despite outhitting Texas A&M (27-6) 4-1, UMass could not find the tying run. With two batters on in the top of the ninth inning, starter Rebecca Arbino struck out a batter and forced a ground out to end the inning for the Minutewomen.
The Maroon and White’s offense bounced back in Game 2 on Saturday, defeating Oregon State, 6-1. UMass showed its diversity on offense, with hits from six different players. UMass coach Elaine Sortino gives credit to her team for having patience and timely hitting to come back from losses over the weekend.
The Beavers (12-13) scored their lone run of the game in the first inning from a double to right center. Plourde struck out 11, a total of 33 for the day, and did not allow a walk to stop Oregon’s offense. Michelle Libby also helped out on defense with two diving saves in outfield that robbed the Beavers of potential runs.
Audrey Boutin walked to bring home Williams, who was hit by pitch, to score first for the Minutewomen. A sacrifice fly ball from Libby and a fielder’s choice from Reeves brought in two more runs to end the inning. Katie Bettencourt and Williams scored two additional unearned runs in the fourth inning. Reeves wrapped up UMass’ scoring with an RBI double to bring home pinch runner Cyndil Matthew.
UMass takes day two
The classic’s second day brought back-to-back wins for UMass, led by three hits from Normandin and 31 strikeouts from Plourde.
After defeating Illinois-Chicago (9-18), 5-4, at the FIU Combat Classic, the Maroon and White defeated them again, 5-0 on Friday afternoon. The five hits for the Minutewomen came in the sixth inning as Normandin scored first, followed by a three-run double from pinch hitter Boutin. Williams followed with a second double to drive in the final run for UMass.
Strong hitting continued into the second game of the day as the Minutewomen earned a 3-1 win over San Diego. A double from Libby put UMass up by two in the top of the first inning.
The Toreros (9-17) put up a run in the second inning, but 17 strikeouts from Plourde stopped San Diego from scoring another run. Danielle Duhart’s single was the one run allowed by Plourde in her 14 innings pitched on the day.
“She works hard, she’s a very strong athlete,” Sortino said of Plourde. “She’s very fit, she loves the game and she loves to pitch.”
A single from pinch hitter Jessica Serio drove in the third and final run for UMass.
“Jess Serio did a great job. She came up big in Game 1, and she broke it open for us in Game 2,” Sortino said. “I brought her in to pinch hit for Meghan [Carta], and she had a key at bat.”
UMass splits day one
The Minutewomen split day one of the San Diego Classic II with a victory over Kansas and a loss to host San Diego State.
Bettencourt, Normandin, Williams and Libby helped UMass to an early lead that it held onto for the remainder of the game against the Jayhawks (14-15). After both teams scored in the first inning, the Minutewomen came back in the bottom of the second with four runs. A homerun from Libby in the fifth inning and a Magill double in the sixth inning gave the Minutewomen a 7-1 lead.
Kansas looked to make a comeback in the seventh inning, scoring two runs off of relief pitcher Bailey Sanders. Plourde returned to the mound, allowing three singles that led to three additional runs. Plourde came back and struck out the final two batters to give UMass the 7-6 win.
A wild pitch in the first inning and a single in the third inning gave San Diego State a 2-0 lead that the Minutewomen could not recover from. Plourde pitched strong despite the loss, allowing only four hits and striking out nine batters.
UMass looked for a comeback in the sixth inning when a Libby single drove home Magill to cut the Aztec’s (18-9) lead in half. Pitchers Samantha Beasley and Bailey Micetich combined to strike out 11 UMass batters to hold on for the win.
The Minutewomen start conference play on Sunday when they travel to Washington, D.C. to face George Washington.
Geena Lombardi can be reached at email@example.com.