July 29, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

Chiarelli: Sam Koch’s impact evident in those who knew him best -

Monday, July 21, 2014

Longtime UMass men’s soccer coach Sam Koch dies after two-year battle with sinus cancer -

Monday, July 21, 2014

Southwest evacuated after gas leak -

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

UMass Rowing finishes NCAA Championships, ends year ranked No. 21 in the nation -

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Two UMass basketball alums to compete for a lofty prize in The Basketball Tournament -

Friday, May 23, 2014

Commencement Photos 2014 -

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Two arrested in relation to series of vandalism -

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Students push for relocation of the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health -

Monday, May 12, 2014

Video: No. 14 UMass WLAX ends season in loss to Loyola (MD) -

Saturday, May 10, 2014

No. 14 UMass women’s lacrosse season ends in loss to Loyola (MD) -

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sixth inning rally propels UMass past Dayton 7-2 -

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

McMahon, Ferris and McGovern: Not your usual transfer story -

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Women’s lacrosse defeats Richmond 10-6 to win sixth straight A-10 Championship -

Sunday, May 4, 2014

No. 13 UMass women’s lacrosse knocks off Duquesne 16-3 to reach Atlantic 10 finals -

Friday, May 2, 2014

UMass one of 55 schools currently facing investigation over handling of sexual assault cases -

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Two thefts reported at library -

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Senior Columns 2013-2014 -

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

UMass Dining proposes major meal plan changes -

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

UMass baseball beats UConn for first time since 2007 -

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

MTV’s seemingly controversial new show proves to be ‘Faking It’ -

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Minutewomen impressive at home, look towards practicing outdoors

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Fourteen innings, 30 strikeouts, one no-hitter and two victories.

It was just another day on the mound for the Massachusetts softball team’s ace, Sara Plourde.

In UMass’ doubleheader against St. Bonaventure on Sunday, Plourde threw her third- consecutive no-hitter at home in the first game, leading the Minutewomen to 1-0 victory. The junior fanned 15 batters and walked three.

Plourde got the nod in the second game as well, filling in for fellow starters Caroline Raymond and Lindsey Webster, who are struggling with injuries. Plourde picked up right where she left off, firing 5.2 hitless innings before allowing a single. When all was said and done, Plourde, who was last week’s National Fastpitch Coaches Association Player of the Week, pitched the entire game, allowing two hits and one unearned run in UMass’ 7-1 victory.

While Plourde admitted she was a little upset at losing the second no-hitter, UMass head coach Elaine Sortino was not concerned.

“I don’t care about that stuff,” said Sortino. “A ‘W’ is a ‘W.’”

“I thought it was a pretty valiant effort on Sara’s part to be able to go back-to-back against a team that swings as hard and as free as they do,” added the coach.

Enjoying the UMass Softball Complex

With two more wins, the Minutewomen improved their home record to 6-0. Since 2006, UMass is 94-5-1 at home and it is currently on a nine-game undefeated streak within its own confines.

“It’s our field, and we’re going to protect our house and represent UMass,” said Webster.

“Being in your home environment, all your friends and family are able to come,” added Plourde. “I know my family can’t come to away games, so when they’re here it preps me even more. I think it helps having them here at the games.”

Although the statistics support UMass’ continuing home-field advantage, Sortino isn’t buying too much into it.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of being here. This time of the season, we’ve had to weather a lot of storms in terms of injuries, youth [and] inexperience,” said Sortino. “I think the team is just playing better, I think they played really well at BU the other day, actually better than they did here today.”

Looking ahead

While the Minutewomen are certainly playing their best ball of the season, Sortino wants her team to stay grounded and understand there’s much more work to do. Weather and scheduling have prevented UMass from practicing much outside, and Sortino knows there’s only so much the team can accomplish indoors.

“I think [there are] things we need to work on offensively in terms of our pitch selection,” said Sortino. “We’re going to have our fourth practice outside tomorrow. So the things we’ve been able to just start to do like base-running, reading balls offensively and defensively as a baserunner… We’ve got a lot to work on; I’ve got a list five miles long.”

The Minutewomen have a very busy upcoming schedule and will seek to keep the momentum going. Starting April 13, UMass will play eight games in 12 days. The Minutewomen will be on the road for the first four before returning home for two doubleheaders against Syracuse on April 22 and George Washington on April 24. UMass has taken full advantage of doubleheaders this year, with an 11-3 record.

“It takes us a while to get going, so the second game is always so much better than the first, which is so annoying,” said Webster, laughing. “We’ll win the first game 1-0 and we’ll smoke them the next game, and that seems to be a pattern. Doubleheaders definitely get our pitchers going… [Plourde] almost had another no-hitter [and] she’s just amazing. [Doubleheaders] get us a lot of practice and keep our stamina and our energy up.”

Steve Levine can be reached at slevine@student.umass.edu.

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