March 28, 2015

Scrolling Headlines:

Closing arguments presented, jury deliberations begin Friday in first of four 2012 gang rape trials -

Friday, March 27, 2015

UMass library opens groundbreaking 3D printing lab -

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Defendant in 2012 gang rape case says accuser consented to sex -

Thursday, March 26, 2015

For the love of the craft: UMass Juggling Club -

Thursday, March 26, 2015

UMass lacrosse looks for fourth straight victory versus Towson -

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The dark, twisty special on Robert Durst proves that, yet again, humanity’s biggest “Jinx” is hubris -

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Law and order, UMass style -

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hillel fails to represent all Jewish students -

Thursday, March 26, 2015

UMass women’s lacrosse aims another perfect conference record against Duquesne -

Thursday, March 26, 2015

UMass heads home to take on Albany -

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Coming off weekend victory, UMass softball prepares for series against St. Josephs -

Thursday, March 26, 2015

‘The Last Man on Earth?’ more like, ‘The Worst Show on Earth’ -

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A new face for money -

Thursday, March 26, 2015

UMass hopes to carry momentum into weekend series against VCU -

Thursday, March 26, 2015

UMass Theatre Guild to present “Seussical” this weekend -

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

UMass eyes the future of its athletics with the hiring of Athletic Director Ryan Bamford -

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Derrick Gordon to transfer from UMass in search of more prominent role -

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Local author and activist Don Ogden writes to make environmental change -

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Chiarelli: Football the center of attention Tuesday at Bamford’s hiring -

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

MANNA soup kitchen continues to feed the local hungry in Northampton -

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Defense paying off for Minutewomen

Behind the dominating pitching of Sara Plourde and power hitting from the offense, there has been one component of the Massachusetts softball team that has been overshadowed this season: The defense.

However, UMass’ defense stepped up recently in its 6-0 shutout of Quinnipiac. With three players boasting a fielding percentage of 1.000, the Minutewomen (28-7, 8-0 Atlantic 10) helped Plourde record her fifth no-hitter of the season.

“No-hitters are sensational in newspapers and get people to want to come and watch,” UMass coach Elaine Sortino said. “But, I can promise you that never once do we start a game and think, ‘Today we’re going to throw a no-hitter.”

To Sortino, no-hitters are something to which her team pays little attention.

Plourde, with 399 strikeouts for the season, relied on her defense in the no-hitter, as she tossed nine strikeouts in the game.

“We had a lot more defensive plays,” Plourde said. “[Quinnipiac] was a good hitting team, they just put the ball in play and our defense had a chance to make our plays. They did it, they put everything away.”

Michelle Libby helped out in the first inning, catching a fly ball to end the inning after Plourde struck out two batters. Carly Normandin got the second out in the second inning, along with catching a fly ball in the fifth, and Plourde fanning the final batter to end the second. Freshman Teea Rogers also helped out with an out at third base to finish up the third inning.

Sarah Reeves came through for UMass in the fourth, making two outs at first base after Plourde forced both batters to pop out. It was also Reeves who ended the game and ensured the shutout, making the final out on a foul ball in the seventh inning.

It was all defense in the sixth inning for the Maroon and White, with catcher Meghan Carta catching a foul ball. Rogers came through with her second key play of the day by stopping a line drive at third base, while Whitney Williams, playing shortstop, stopped another line drive to end the inning for the Minutewomen. 

Normandin, Katie Bettencourt and Reeves are the three starting players who have a 1.000 fielding percentage this season. Kyllie Magill, Libby and Carta also have high ranking fielding percentages, with .980, .943 and .998, respectively.    

In the A-10, Carta is second in putouts, with 431, while Reeves and Normandin are also tied for first place in the A-10 for their fielding percentages.      

Despite having numerous defensive threats at her disposal, Sortino does not have one player on defense who she feels stands out esepcially.

“I think all of them are doing a good job,” Sortino said. “I think we started out with errors early in the year, but that was also a byproduct of not being able to play on the field.”  

In the NCAA fielding percentage standings, UMass ranks fourth in the country with an overall percentage of .978. The Minutewomen also have the lowest amount of errors in the NCAA, with 17. The defense stands strong in putouts and assists, with 668 and 94, respectively.

Now that the Minutewomen can play outside at the UMass softball complex, 10 of their next 13 regular season games will be played at home, and Sortino thinks her defense will only continue to improve. Despite having a consistent pitcher and strong batters on offense, Sortino is confident that “defense wins championships.”

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

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