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Plourde strikes out 30 in Minutewomen victory

 

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Massachusetts pitcher Sara Plourde won back-to-back games and struck out 30 batters in 14 innings of work as the Minutewomen defeated St. Bonaventure, 1-0 and 7-1, respectively in Sunday’s doubleheader at the UMass Softball Complex.

“Today was definitely one of those days that I had to struggle through and battle through,” said Plourde. “It was good that our offense was able to get a couple runs across the [plate] for some insurance runs, though.”

With her 15-strikeout performance in the day’s second contest, Plourde became the third pitcher in UMass history to reach 900 strikeouts in her career and the first to do it before her senior year. That’s an average of 300 strikeouts-per-season in an Atlantic 10 conference that is full of free-swinging teams. Her career total now sits at 905, 313 behind Brandice Balschmiter (1218).

“She’s a great young pitcher,” said UMass head coach Elaine Sortino. “The thing about her is that she’s getting stronger and things are starting to work a little bit better for her and more effectively. It’s good to see her getting better every day.”

The junior held the Bonnies hitless for 12.2 innings before giving up a first-pitch single to right-field in the sixth inning of the second game. That base runner was the first hit at home allowed by Plourde this season, in over 30 innings.

“I definitely didn’t want to give that up,” said Plourde. “I think I was even ahead in the count too. I really didn’t want to give that one up.”

The lone run of the matchup came from Stephanie Mix, who was pinch-running for Plourde after the ace worked a leadoff walk in the second inning. Mix stole second and advanced to third on an illegal pitch before Teea Rogers singled through the left side of the infield for the only run-batted-in of the first game.

Plourde again dominated the diamond in the second game, allowing her first run at home while striking out 15 and walking one. She received a little more offense in the latter half of the twinbill, receiving hits from 7-of-9 UMass batters, including two home runs.

“I thought we opened up a little bit [offensively],” said Sortino. “We did a good job at the plate, and we stayed patient.”

Lindsey Webster and Stephanie Mayne led the offense for the Minutewomen on the day and each hit two-run home runs to left field in the fifth inning of the second game. After second baseman Kyllie Magill doubled, Webster worked the count to 2-1 then promptly hit the next ball she saw into the netting beyond the left-field fence for her team-leading fourth homer of the season.

Two batters later, Mayne stepped into the batter’s box after first baseman Audrey Boutin walked. Down in the count, 0-2, Mayne got a fastball from Bonnies pitcher Jen Sansano and hit it to the same place Webster did. The round-tripper was Mayne’s second of the year, as she was two-for-three with four RBIs on the day.

The Minutewomen weren’t done scoring, however. After consecutive base-hits by Rogers and centerfielder Cyndil Matthew in the sixth inning, Magill hit a sacrifice fly to the outfield to add another run and make the score 7-1.

The Maroon and White improved to 16-14 overall and 7-3 in A-10 play with the victories and will travel to Chestnut Hill, Mass. on Wednesday to face Boston College at 4 p.m.

Michael Wood can be reached at mcwood@student.umass.edu.

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