Even when the hitting isn’t going well for the Massachusetts softball team, the offense finds a way to score runs.
Quinnipiac threw two no-hit innings to start the game, but the Minutewomen still took a 2-0 lead to start the third inning, finishing the game with a combined .217 average and while still scoring six runs.
UMass (28-7, 8-0 Atlantic 10) did so by taking advantage of the Bobcats’ mistakes and had solid baserunning throughout the game, finishing with seven stolen bases.
Outfielder Carly Normandin (1-for-3) had two stolen bases and a run before getting her first hit in the sixth inning. The senior made a heads-up play in the fourth inning when she reached first base on a fielder’s choice, then stole second as QU pitcher Emily Bellush nonchalantly walked towards the mound.
“With a play where they break it up at two, they’re not really paying attention, they’re not really in position, so you just kind of take a look down there, and if they’re not paying attention, then you just take advantage of that and take the extra base,” Normandin said.
She eventually scored after second baseman Kyle Magill singled to centerfield.
It wasn’t just UMass’ approach on the basepaths that led to the win. The Minutewomen also took advantage of QU’s mistakes, as Bellush issued four walks while the defense committed two errors.
The pitcher’s throwing error helped sophomore Katie Bettencourt reach second base, and eventually scored on designated player Jessica Serio’s sacrifice fly.
Senior Jill Andrews, who started two games all year, has made the most of her limited playing time this season, serving mainly as a pinch-runner. Against the Bobcats, she showed her effectiveness on the bases with two stolen bases and a run in the second inning, despite never taking an at-bat.
Andrews pinch-ran for Libby and stole second base, while freshman Teea Rogers reached first on a fielder’s choice and got Andrews to third. Andrews eventually reached home on a double-steal with Rogers to give the Minutewomen their second run of the game.
“You know that it’s pretty much you’re only time to shine, so you’re going to try to have to do something to benefit the team, so if that’s getting two stolen bases, then it’s getting two stolen bases,” Andrews said.
Despite her experience with the team, the outfielder never started much in her career, but still tries to make the most of her chances.
“I’m just trying to be a leader on whether it’s going out there and starting, if that’s not what the team needs for me, then I’m going to be anxious to go into pinch-run, pinch-hit, anything the team needs for us to win,” Andrews said.
The bench had few problems creating runs during the win over the Bobcats. Pinch runners combined for four of the Minutewomen’s stolen bases and were responsible for two of the runs.
UMass coach Elaine Sortino said after the win that she believes the bench is playing a critical role in the offense this season. Even if her bench players don’t get much playing time, the depth they add makes her team even more of a threat than it already is to A-10 opponents.
“We’re very fortunate in that we have five or six [players] that can come in lots of different situations and run for us,” Sortino said. “They added a lot to the ability that we had today to manufacture some runs.”
Adam Miller can be reached at email@example.com.