UMass softball opens season 0-3 at rain-shortened FAU Kick-Off Classic
The Massachusetts softball team came up 0-for-3 in its bid to pick up its first win of the season at the rain-shortened FAU Kick-Off Classic in Boca Raton, Fla., this past weekend.
With the Minutewomen (0-3) nursing a 9-5 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning against LIU Brooklyn on Friday, the South Florida rain clouds opened up, forcing a mid-game cancellation only three outs away from victory.
Though none of its statistics against the Blackbirds (2-7) would count due to the rainout, UMass came out explosively in the top of the first inning. All-American outfielder Cyndil Matthew hit a lead-off triple and later scored on a base hit from teammate Quianna Diaz-Patterson as part of a four-run first-inning attack by the Minutewomen.
The hot start continued into the second frame when UMass tacked on two more runs. The Minutewomen ended the incomplete game with nine hits and one error and was able to hold LIU to only four hits.
Maryland defeats UMass in first official game
Defensive errors cost UMass in its first official game of the tournament, as the Minutewomen committed five errors and suffered a 16-8 loss against Maryland in the first half of a double-header on Saturday.
Though UMass jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a pair of hits in the first inning, the Terrapins (3-1) answered with five runs on two hits and two Minutewomen errors in the bottom half of the frame. The UMass deficit increased in the second, when Shannon Bustillos hit an RBI double and was then batted in by Mandy Gardner.
After an unearned run on a passed ball in the top of the third cut Maryland’s lead to 7-2, the Terrapins opened up with a six-run effort in the bottom of the inning. UMass, however, responded with six runs of its own in fourth inning, powered by a pair of two-run singles from Tiffany Meeks and Katie Bettencourt.
Maryland tacked on three more runs in the sixth inning to push its lead to eight runs.
Emma Mendoker got her first start in the circle for the Minutemen, allowing five hits and three earned runs. Christine Della Vecchia finished the game a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate for the Minutewomen.
Errors hurt UM against FAU
UMass gave up a pair of four-run innings in the second game of Saturday’s double-header, falling to Florida Atlantic, 8-0. Lindsey Webster got the nod in the afternoon game, giving up three earned runs on eight hits while striking out striking out two in 4.2 innings.
The Owls (3-6) took advantage of two Minutewomen errors in the game, including a botched play by Diaz-Patterson that led to four Maryland runs.
Later, in the fifth, FAU scored four more runs on three hits. The Minutewomen left a total of seven players on base, failing to plate a runner in the game.
UMass falls to Michigan in final game of tournament
On Sunday, the Massachusetts softball team lost for the third time in the tournament, this time 13-2 to No. 14/13 Michigan in only four and a half innings.
The Wolverines (5-2) scored all 13 of their runs in a first-inning offensive explosion that included nine hits. Webster again got the start for UMass, but was shelled, lasting just one-third of an inning and allowing 11 of the Michigan runs, six earned. The Minutewomen scored two runs in the fourth inning, but the run-rule was put into effect and the game was called.
Coach Elaine Sortino told UMassAthletics.com that she was not pleased with the outcome of the tournament but is still hopeful about the future.
“It is what it is,” she said. “Extremely, grossly disappointed, would be the words. It’s nothing we are used to. It’s going to get better, but we are going to have to take our lumps to learn what we are meant to do.”
Sortino also discussed the young pitching rotation.
“Clearly, we were very disappointed with the results,” she said. “But coming into this we have a very, very young group of pitchers taking their stand on the mound for us. They were extremely nervous whether, they say so or not.
“All three of them were tight, and when you’re tight, it is very difficult to have speed. When you don’t have speed, I think as a pitcher, they tend to start to aim and then steer the ball which is not good for anybody.”
UMass will be in Clearwater, Fla., for the NFCA Leadoff Classic starting on Friday.
Kaitlin Boyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @Kaitlin_Boyer.