UMass softball takes two, sweeps Dayton
After picking up a convincing 9-4 win in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday, the Massachusetts softball team continued its stride in Game 2. Thanks to a five-run rally in the bottom of the fourth inning, highlighted by a pinch-hit two-run home run by Tiffany Meeks, the Minutewomen completed the doubleheader sweep of Dayton with a 5-2 win at Sortino Field Saturday afternoon.
“Our staff has worked really hard (on) getting us prepared (in) pitching, hitting, and fielding,” UMass coach Kristi Stefanoni said. “We took the day off on Thursday and practiced really hard (Friday). Our underclassmen stepped up big time (Saturday).”
Following a complete game performance by Caroline Raymond in the first game, freshman Tara Klee got the start in the circle for second game, allowing two runs on five hits with five strikeouts in a complete game effort.
Klee fell behind in the fourth inning when she allowed a leadoff home run to the Alysha Issacson, giving Dayton (14-21, 2-6 Atlantic 10) a 1-0 lead. This came after a lengthy Flyers’ third inning, when they loaded the bases on 27 pitches. Klee walked eight batters on 143 pitches.
“Dayton is a very good hitting team,” Stefanoni said. “We talked about getting the ball in the corners and that can be a difficult thing. So we just told her to keep is simple. Keep throwing it where you know you need to throw it. You’ll get the call.”
UMass (7-14, 2-2 A-10) responded in the home half of the fourth. After Lindsey Webster grounded out to third base, first baseman Bridget Lemire singled a 3-2 pitch into right field. After the Minutewomen took the lead 2-1 on doubles by Jena Cozza and Lindsey Zenk, Meeks pinch-hit for third baseman Anna Kelley and sent a 2-0 pitch over the fence to give UMass a 4-1 lead they would not relinquish.
“Tiffany is a typical hard, line-drive, outfield-ball hitter,” Stefanoni said. “I knew that in that type of situation, we were going to need a ball pretty deep in the outfield in order to get some runs scored. She happened to hit a home run which was way better than anticipated. That’s her game.”
UMass tacked on another run in the inning to take a 5-1 lead entering the fifth. Despite throwing 26 pitches and allowing another run to the Flyers in the next inning, the five-run rally by her team was enough for Klee to finish the game.
“It’s great. It’s awesome to know that my team has my back,” said Klee. I trust them completely and they’re good hitters. So no worries.”
Zenk performed well at the plate for the Minutewomen, going 2-for-3 and collecting a run batted in. Freshman backup catcher Ashton Wince also picked up an RBI and was 1-for-2 on the afternoon.
UMass takes early game
UMass’ home stand success continued early Saturday afternoon, when it beat Dayton 9-4 in the first game of a doubleheader thanks to a six-run burst in the bottom of the fourth inning.
After neither team could get on the board in the first two innings, the Flyers struck first in the top of the third inning when Issacson singled in senior outfielder Rachel Archer for the game’s first run. In the fourth inning, shortstop Jordan Jennings uncorked a solo home run over the left field fence to push the Dayton lead to 2-0.
The Minutewomen (6-14, 1-2 A-10) snatched the lead away from the Flyers in their half of the fourth inning. Four walks and a two-out grand slam by Wince put the Minutewomen ahead for good, as they took a 6-2 lead into the fifth. Dayton would attempt to make a rally of their own in the fifth and sixth innings, but an RBI double by freshman Cote Clark and a two-run home run by Bridget Lemire effectively silenced their efforts.
Caroline Raymond (4-7) earned the victory for the Minutewomen, allowing four runs and striking out three in her complete game performance. Kayla English was charged with the loss for Dayton, as she allowed nine runs and five walks in her five innings of work.
Marc Jean-Louis can be reached at email@example.com.