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April 30, 2016

Reeves putting hitting woes behind her in victory

BOSTON – Part of being a nationally ranked team means having people in the lineup who can step up, even when its best hitters are struggling.

First baseman Sarah Reeves was that player for the Massachusetts softball team.

Despite scoring seven runs in Tuesday’s win against Boston University, the Minutewomen wouldn’t have kept up with the Terriers’ offense if not for Reeves’s timely hitting. The first four batters, who average a combined .329, finished the game 0-for-14.

However, Reeves did nothing to ease the comfort of BU’s pitching.

She finished the game 3-for-3 with two home runs to give her a team-high of six on the season. She is tied with catcher Meghan Carta (1-for-3) and left fielder Michelle Libby (2-for-3), who each hit home runs during the game.

“The great thing about our team is that anyone in the lineup can have a great day and you know maybe if the top of the lineup can’t get it done, the middle of the order or end of the lineup is going to get it done,” Reeves said, regarding the bottom of the lineup, who hit four home runs.

Reeves’s second home run in the sixth inning gave her 26 career home runs, which tied her with Brandi Cross and Scooter Wheeler for fifth all-time at UMass.

“I was just trying to stay aggressive at the plate and the ball was right there and I was able to hit it,” Reeves said.

During the first two months of the season, the senior gave the Minutewomen (26-7, 8-0 Atlantic 10) a strong bat in the middle of the lineup with three home runs in the first three weeks of the season.

Even when she wasn’t hitting home runs, Reeves was still delivering timely hitting for the team. On March 20 against Oregon State, she drove in two runs with a double in the Minutewomen’s 6-1 win.

A little over a week later, she tied the school record in hits with a 5-for-5 game on March 28 in Game 1 against George Washington, and then hit a grand slam in Game 2.

In the first part of April, Reeves had not been that go-to player her teammates were used to relying on in the bottom of the lineup. UMass coach Elaine Sortino believed the reason for her struggles was when she was swinging, and believed the extra practice paid off.

“We did a couple things, made a few adjustments in her timing, and it affected her tremendously,” Sortino said. “She’s a good hitter.”

Over the past two seasons, Reeves was one of the Minutewomen’s best power hitters, as she finished with 10 home runs in both years. She led the team in 2008, and was second behind Samantha Salato (19) in 2009.

Reeves improvement is especially important because Sortino saw Tuesday’s matchup as a playoff-type game. Both teams are No. 1 in their respective conferences, made it to the NCAA Regional’s, and UMass was on the road.

While the top of the lineup wasn’t nearly as potent as it has been in previous games, Reeves led the rest of the offense to a win, even when the Terriers adjusted their offense and scored five runs off of pitcher Sara Plourde.

After a solid showing of Reeves’s strength, Sortino hopes her senior put the worst of her hitting woes behind her and can continue to be the power hitter who gives the Minutewomen runs when needed.

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

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