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Plourde breaks UM strikeout record as Minutewomen defeat Boston College

Pitcher Sara Plourde, broke an 11-year-old school record for strikeouts during the Massachusetts softball team’s 3-1 victory over Boston College on Wednesday.

The sophomore wasted no time earning the three strikeouts needed to break Danielle Henderson’s previous record of 465. In the top of the first inning, Plourde came out strong and struck out all three batters, hoping to get the record-breaking out of the way.

“I’m glad it’s done, I’ve definitely heard a lot about it lately,” Plourde said. “It definitely motivated me a little bit. Meghan, my catcher, was like ‘you know what, just do it, just get it over with, get it out of the way and you’ll be done’.”

Not only did Carta motivate Plourde to make UMass history, but she also hit the game-winning home run in the bottom of the sixth inning. With the game tied at one, Sarah Reeves reached first base on an error from BC’s second baseman Renee Ramos. Carta swung at the 2-2 pitch and lifted the ball over the center field fence to give the Minutewomen (34-7-1, 13-0 Atlantic 10) a 3-1 lead they kept for the remainder of the game.

“I was just thinking line drive, hands out and see a pitch down,” Carta said. “She was throwing a lot of balls up and I just wanted to see a pitch down, and put a good swing on it.”

Michelle Libby first put the Maroon and White on the scoreboard in the fourth inning. Bettencourt reached first base on a wild pitch, followed by a double from Carta to left field. With batters at second and third base, Libby hit an RBI single to send Bettencourt home.

However, the Eagles (15-31) came back to tie the game in the top of the sixth inning. Allie Thunstrom started off the inning with a single to third base, and then advanced to second base as Amy Tunstall hit a sacrifice bunt. After striking out Ramos, a wild pitch from Plourde allowed Thunstrom to advance to third base and put herself in scoring position. Dani Weir came through for BC with an RBI single to send home Thunstrom and tighten up the game.

Plourde kept up her consistent pitching for the day, striking out a total of nine opponents and increasing her season strikeout total to 472. She struck out the final pitcher in the sixth inning to avoid any additional runs scored and increased her record to 33-5.

UMass coach Elaine Sortino praised Plourde for her accomplishment and ability to stay levelheaded throughout all of the attention put on her.

“She cares more about the team winning than she does about what she’s doing,” Sortino said. “Because . . . in the end, things in the record book don’t matter as much as the team going some place.”

Shortstop Whitney Williams also played a major role in the victory on defense, started off by an in-the-dirt, backhanded catch to throw out the batter approaching first base. After Plourde struck out the first batter in the seventh inning, Williams caught a fly ball in center field, followed by a second catch at her shortstop position. The senior hung onto the ball despite tripping over second base and made the out to ensure UMass’ victory.

“Defense wins championships,” Sortino said. “It starts on the mound, but [Plourde] can’t strike everyone out and the better the teams get, the more they will put the ball into play.”

BC starting pitcher Nicole D’Argento had a better showing on the mound than at the first meeting with the Minutewomen earlier in the season. She allowed four hits from the Maroon and White offense, along with eight strikeouts. The loss brings her record down to 4-13 for the season.

UMass looks to continue its 20-game unbeaten streak as it faces Temple on Friday and Saturday in a two-game home series.

The Owls (18-27, 7-9 A-10) come into the series on a high note, as they most recently beat La Salle in a doubleheader.

Offensive threat Danielle Fagan hit her ninth home run of the season to help out the Owls in Game 1. She leads her team with a .319 batting average and .593 slugging percentage. Fagan is ranked fourth in the A-10 with 36 runs batted in.

Rachel Knable has also been a strong hitter for Temple with a .277 batting average and 20 RBIs. She also has five home runs for the season.

On the mound, starter Kristen Marris contributed to the wins by striking out fifteen batters and giving up five hits for the day. She brings a 2.51 ERA into the series against the Minutewomen, along with a 12-13 record for the season.

UMass will look to remain undefeated in the A-10, with conference play scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. on Friday, followed by Saturday’s game at 12 p.m.

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

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