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May 4, 2017

UMass softball trounces UConn, 11-0, for fifth consecutive win

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

Massachusetts softball coach Kristi Stefanoni said that her squad always gets amped up to play their non-league rival Connecticut.

Her squad transferred that mentality to offensive firepower Tuesday at Sortino Field.

The Minutewomen (8-14) unleashed a batting onslaught against Huskies pitcher Lauren Duggan, chasing her after just one out was recorded en route to an 11-0 mercy rule victory in just five innings.

UMass junior hurler Caroline Raymond capitalized on that run support, as she cruised through three innings of scoreless work and picked up her fifth victory of the season.

“It was a really good win for us,” said senior Lindsey Webster, whose double drove home two in the first inning. “It was our first mercy of the year – got to love it. It was such a fun game. Everyone’s spirits were really high.”

Added Stefanoni: “It’s a true testament to what we have been doing all year. They have been working their tails off at practice – coming early to hit, staying after, and it’s truly starting to show up here in these games.”

The Minutewomen’s seven-run bottom of the first inning began with junior Quianna Diaz-Patterson reaching base on a single. Freshman Cote Clark then followed with a bunt single, and sophomore Taylor Carbone plated Diaz-Patterson with an RBI single.

In the cleanup spot, Webster continued the barrage by launching a double that rolled to the left-centerfield wall, scoring two more.

“I’ve really been working a lot – we all have – on really hitting that outside pitch and putting a good swing on a good pitch. That’s just what I tried to do today,” Webster said.

Stefanoni says that Webster, who is now batting .333 this season, is a lynchpin in the batting order.

“Lindsey is a big power hitter for us – she’s a huge leader in the lineup,” Stefanoni said. “Smack-dab in the middle, she usually comes up with people on base. When she hits, it becomes contagious and everyone else starts to hit.”

UMass batted around in the first inning en route to those seven runs on seven hits.

“That was the most hits and runs we scored in the first inning this year, maybe even from last year, too,” Webster said. “It was so great. It just put us in just a good place to, really, just finish out the game.”

Stefanoni noted that UConn (7-26) is a regional rival and frequent foe of UMass, and she reminded her Minutewomen of the mindset needed to defeat the Huskies.

“I know they always come ready to play us, and we come ready to play them,” she said. “It’s extremely important to be able to jump on a team like that right away. For us to get on the board, and very early that way – that was huge for us.”

Raymond more than contributed her share in the circle, scattering three hits over three innings of work while fanning six. Freshman Dakota Smith-Porter took over for the fourth inning, and closed out the game with a pair of scoreless frames.

“Caroline threw gas today,” Webster said. “They just couldn’t even touch her – she was phenomenal. And Dakota is really coming into her own. She’s a great asset to this team.”

UMass’ defense was also a bright spot for the Minutewomen in support of pitchers Raymond and Smith-Porter. UMass second baseman Jena Cozza marveled with a twisting, over-the-shoulder grab on a flare into short right field to end the third inning.

“Another day, another game where we went error free. We allowed five hits, and to have zero runs and zero errors shows a lot for our defense and pitching staff,” Stefanoni said,

After sweeping the rain-shortened five-game homestand, the Minutewomen hit the road for an eight-game stretch away from Sortino Field, beginning at Boston College on Wednesday.

Yoni Monat can be reached at jmonat@umass.edu.

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