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May 14, 2016

Minutewomen host Boston College

For the second time this season, the No. 21 Massachusetts softball team will face Boston College on Wednesday night.

In their first meeting on April 6, the Minutewomen (33-7-1, 13-0-1 Atlantic 10) shut out the Eagles, 6-0. Starting pitcher Sara Plourde played a large role in the victory, allowing only one hit.

The sophomore had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning, but BC’s star-hitter Renee Ramos doubled towards right field to get on base. Plourde ended the inning and stopped a potential run by striking out the final batter. She had twenty strikeouts against the Eagles (15-30, 1-17 Atlantic Coast Conference) which broke UMass records for strikeouts in a single game.

Wednesday’s game also has significance to Plourde, as she will look to make UMass history for the most strikeouts in a single season. She currently has 463 for the season and needs three additional strikeouts to beat the record Danielle Henderson set in 1999.

The Maroon and White’s offense showed off its power hitting against BC, with all six runs coming from home runs. Katie Bettencourt, who was named Athlete of Week on Monday, hit the first home run in the game to drive in three runs. Michelle Libby led off the fourth inning with a solo home run to left field, followed by a Whitney Williams two-run home run in the top of the seventh.

Bettencourt will look to challenge BC starting pitcher Nicole D’Argento again, as she led the Minutewomen to four victories last week over A-10 rivals Rhode Island and Dayton. The sophomore batted .692 last week, along with a 1.154 slugging percentage. She contributed seven RBIs and was 9-for-13 at the plate.

Most recently, the Eagles fell to Virginia Tech, 8-2, on Sunday afternoon. Despite the loss, D’Argento allowed four hits and struck out five batters in the six innings she pitched. She comes into the game with a 4-12 record for the season, along with a 3.56 earned run average.

Allison Gage also made an appearance in the meeting against UMass earlier in the season. She came in during the fourth inning to replace Taylor Peyton (5-10) and pitched the final innings for BC. Gage comes into the second matchup with a 3.32 ERA and 6-8 record.

Ramos continues to lead the Eagles, as she hit her 11th home run of the season to put the Eagles up two runs in the fourth inning. The senior is batting .369 for the season, with 22 of her 45 hits driving in runs. She’ll face Plourde with a strong .738 slugging percentage and team-leading 24 runs scored.

The first ACC win of the season for BC came on Saturday afternoon as it defeated Virginia Tech in Game 2 of a doubleheader. Amy Tunstall came through in the sixth inning to hit a two-run home run to take the 7-6 victory.

The senior will serve as another offensive threat to Plourde, as she comes into the game with four home runs and 12 RBIs. Overall, Tunstall went 4-for-8 in the doubleheader and drove in three RBIs. In their first meeting, however, Plourde struck out Tunstall in her three appearances at the plate.

Dani Weir has also provided an offensive spark for the Eagles with her .430 slugging percentage and 24 RBIs. The senior is second on her team in home runs with seven for the season, behind Ramos. She has also made the most appearances at the plate for her team, with 128. In BC’s victory over Virginia Tech, Weir helped out with a single to tie the game in the fourth inning.

The Minutewomen look to record their 20th straight victory as they host the Eagles at the UMass softball complex at 5 p.m.

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

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