April 20, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s lacrosse falls to Hofstra on Senior Night, 11-6 -

Saturday, April 19, 2014

VIDEO: UMass United Rally in support of Derrick Gordon, LGBTQ community -

Friday, April 18, 2014

Student rally in support of Gordon, LGBTQ community -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

John Ashcroft faces criticism during speech -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass football continues move in new direction in annual Spring Game -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thousands gather in Amherst Commons for 23rd Annual Extravaganja -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sexual violence is not ‘normal’ -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

One year after Boston Marathon bombings, UMass doctor Pierre Rouzier continues passion to help -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Photo Slideshow: UMass United Rally -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Get Yourself Tested at UMass -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Library labyrinth targets stress -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

There is nothing to debate about global warming -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass hits the road to take on LaSalle -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

No. 11 UMass women’s lacrosse looks to extend winning streak against Richmond -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive latest McCormack Executive-in-Residence -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Got a little Irish in you? -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass doctoral student awarded Soros Fellowship -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass Dressage Team discusses the lesser-known sport -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Canelas: Things worth watching in Spring Game 2014 -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

‘The Walking Dead’ finale resurrects a dull season -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

UMass softball season gets underway at FAU Kick-Off Classic

The Massachusetts softball team’s 2013 season is set to begin this weekend with a five-game tournament slate at the annual FAU Kick-Off Classic, and the Minutewomen are looking to have another great year after winning their 23rd Atlantic 10 Championship last year.

Maria Uminski/Collegian

More than 80 percent of UMass’ roster will be returning this year, including All-American left fielder Cyndil Matthew, who last year ranked 37th in the country in batting average, seventh in steals and triples and 20th in runs scored.

Matthew will be joined in the outfield by co-captains Katie Bettencourt and Christine Della Vecchia. Minutewomen coach Elaine Sortino, who is entering her 34th season with the team and for whom the UMass Softball Complex was re-named this past October, said the team could have one of the best outfields in the country this season.

Although many players will be returning from last year, the Minutewomen will be missing All-American pitcher Sara Plourde, who last year started in all but five of the team’s games and finished with a 36-1 record, a 1.77 ERA and 351 strikeouts before graduating and being drafted by the Carolina Diamonds of National Pro Fastpitch.

This year, UMass’ rotation will consist of Lindsey Webster, who pitched in one game last year, allowing three runs in five and two-thirds innings; Bridget Lemire, who started in four games last year and finished with a 1-2 record and a 7.09 ERA; Caroline Raymond, who did not play last year due to injury; and Emma Mendoker, a transfer student from East Carolina who was red-shirted as a freshman last year.

Sortino said the transition could be tough for the pitchers, but she believes they will rise to the challenge.

“It might be a little rough going at the beginning, but all four of them work very hard,” she  said. “They know the task at hand. They know opponents are going to be tough, especially at the (early) part of the season. So, it is what it is and we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Along with Mendoker, there will be three other newcomers to the team. Infielder Whitney Cooper will be red-shirted this season due to a torn ACL. Taylor Carbone is another infielder that Sortino said has the potential to bring some power to the plate and fast hands to the infield. Rounding out the incoming freshman is Olivia Godin, a catcher who will be competing with Samantha Gray for the starting spot after the graduation of last year’s starting catcher Stephanie Mayne.

Sortino said that one of the team’s greatest strengths is the players’ tenacity and their work ethic.

“I’ve coached a long time here, and you have a sense of the work ethic of a team, and the sense of this team’s work ethic is extraordinary,” she said. “This team, wall-to-wall, brings a tremendous work ethic and a sense of blue collar UMass softball pride.”

The Minutewomen will begin the season at the Kick-Off Classic in Boca Raton, Fla., with a double-header against LIU Brooklyn and Toledo on Friday. Sortino said the first games will be a good opportunity to see where the team is at right now.

“I think we’re going to get a great assessment on the first day of what our strengths and weaknesses are, and I think this team is really ready to get out and compete,” she said. “They’ve been working very hard the last five or six weeks, and I think it’s time to play. I think it’s going to do us good to get out and see who we are and what we can do.”

Jesse Mayfield-Sheehan can be reached at jmayfiel@student.umass.edu and followed on Twitter at @jgms88.

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