March 3, 2015

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UMass sweeps La Salle in double-header

Led by a combined five home runs from Kyllie Magill, Meghan Carta and Carly Normandin, the Massachusetts softball team swept La Salle in a double-header in Philadelphia Thursday afternoon.

The Minutewomen (19-7, 4-0 Atlantic 10) came out with strong hitting and quick base running as they shut out the Explorers (7-13, 1-5 A-10) 10-0 in Game 2.

After walking to first and stealing second base, Sarah Reeves’s fielder’s choice brought Carly Normandin home to give UMass a quick 1-0 lead. Kyllie Magill slid home on a wild pitch and scored the Maroon and White’s second and final run of the first inning.

Meghan Carta hit a solo home run in the second inning to give make her the team leader with five on the season. UMass tacked on seven additional runs started by Carta’s two RBI singles to bring home Cyndil Matthew and Katie Bettencourt.

“I thought we did a better job getting ready to hit today, a little bit better than we did the previous weekend and we’ve certainly been working on it,” UMass coach Elaine Sortino said. “I think as the season goes on we’ll gradually see a little bit more of a transformation in hitting.”

Rookie of the Week Teea Rogers singled to drive in pinch-runner Jordan Storro, followed by Whitney Williams walking on to first to load the bases. Normandin stepped up to the plate and hit a grand slam to drive in four more runs and gave the Minutewomen a 10-0 lead. The grand slam was Normandin’s first home run of the season and the second of the year for the Maroon and White.

“It was great to see Carly Normandin get a hold of the ball today,” Sortino said “Obviously coming back from surgery it’s been hard on her . . . it was nice to see her get that grand slam.”

Plourde struck out eight batters in four innings pitched before Bailey Sanders took her place at the mound in the bottom of the fifth inning. After a bunt and a single from the Explorers put two runners on first and third base, Sanders struck out the final two batters to end the game and keep UMass perfect in the A-10.

Behind 14 strikeouts in six innings from Plourde and three homeruns, the Minutewomen defeated La Salle, 8-1, in Game 1 of the doubleheader.

A single from Jessica Serio put the Maroon and White up by one in the first inning. Normandin came through with another RBI single in the second inning, followed by Magill’s first home run of the day to drive in two additional runs and give UMass a 4-0 lead.

The third inning produced two more runs for the Minutewomen with Michelle Libby scoring on a wild pitch and a Whitney Williams sacrifice fly ball to bring Carta home. Magill’s second home run of the game came in the top of the sixth inning to put the Maroon and White up by seven runs.

The Explorers’ scored its lone run of the day in the bottom of the sixth inning, spurred by a hit batter and single from Gina Massaro. Mary Pat Conville followed shortly after with a single to center field to drive in Liz Reed.

The Minutewomen produced its eighth and final run of the game off of a Carta solo home run to left field in the top of the seventh inning. Sanders replaced Plourde in the bottom of the seventh inning, retiring three batters in a row and ensuring the win.

“It’s her third straight appearance, no walks and strikeouts on a minimal amount of pitches and just getting people out,” Sortino said of Sanders. “She’s doing a good job.”

Plourde was credited with the victory in each game, striking out 22 batters in 10 innings pitched and one hit allowed.

UMass looks to continue its four game win streak when it travels to New York to face Fordham, who is also undefeated in the A-10.

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

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