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UMass pulls off doubleheader sweep of St. Bonaventure in convincing fashion

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

At this point in the season, rainouts and postponements have become as routine for the Massachusetts softball team as corn flakes for breakfast.

After yet another rainout on Friday, the Minutewomen wasted no time in a doubleheader against St. Bonaventure on Saturday, sweeping the twin bill in convincing fashion.

Twenty-five minutes after the Minutewomen had put up 17 runs against St. Bonaventure, UMass scored double figures again in a 10-8 win over the Bonnies at McGraw-Jennings Field.

Unlike game one, fatigue seemed to settle into the bats of the Minutewomen in the second contest. Mustering just two hits through the first five innings, UMass (10-15, 4-2 Atlantic 10) entered the sixth inning down 6-1. With St. Bonaventure pitcher Carly Bilchak cruising through the game, a Minutewomen loss seemed all but certain.

“I brought them in and we talked about just keeping it simple and not trying to do so much,” UMass coach Kristi Stefanoni said. “I think we got really caught up in our big win in the first game. So it was all about just taking each pitch and each at bat one at a time. And as the inning went on, our confidence started to build up a little bit.”

After a first-pitch strike to open the inning, it only took one pitch for Taylor Carbone to ignite a Minutewomen rally. Her home run down the left field line pulled UMass to within four runs of St. Bonaventure (4-24, 1-4 A-10). A string of singles enabled UMass to capitalize further in the inning. A sacrifice fly, a walk, and an RBI-single put three more runs on the board and UMass took the field in the bottom half of the inning only down 6-5.

Caroline Raymond, who had hurled a complete game performance in game one, was called upon by Stefanoni to pitch in relief for Tara Klee in game two. She surrendered two hits and two walks, while striking out four in her three innings of work for the win.

“I figured if they were going to get on to Tara (and) we brought in Caroline later in the game, they’d have trouble making that adjustment,” Stefanoni said. “They struggled with her in game one, so I knew it wouldn’t be that much of a difference in game two.”

Raymond was unfazed with the taxing duty of pitching in relief after she had tossed a complete game earlier in the day.

“For three pitchers, we are always told that we are on duty regardless of who pitched game one,” Raymond said. “I was put in and I was just trying to do my job. Throw strikes and get us out of the inning with the least amount of runs scored possible.”

UMass got out of the bottom of the sixth leaving two Bonnies’ runners in scoring position and resumed their scoring rally in the top of the seventh. After Lindsey Webster singled high off the left field fence – missing a home run by a foot, Bridget Lemire came through on cue with a two-run homer to left field, giving the Minutewomen a 7-6 lead. Three more runs put UMass up 10-6 and in position to win the game.

Raymond started on the right foot in the bottom of the seventh, striking out Desiree Gonzalez for the first out. A subsequent walk and a home run by Ashley Snider pulled the Bonnies to within two and gave them an opportunity to make a run of their own. But with a two-run lead late in the game, UMass stopped any rally from taking place.

With the win, UMass has now won seven of its last eight games after starting the season 3-14. Stefanoni credits the turnaround to her players’ hard work and growing confidence as the season progresses.

“They’ve gotten a lot more confident in their ability,” she said. “They’re all around comfortable. They really have a passion for the game. They do everything we ask them to do without hesitation. And it’s showing.”

UM crushes Bonnies

Four home runs led UMass to a 17-2 rout of the Bonnies in five innings.

Bridget Lemire gave UMass a quick 3-0 first-inning lead with her fourth home run of the season over the right field fence, scoring both Cote Clark and Lindsey Webster.

But that was just the beginning for the Minutewomen. UMass scored 14 unanswered runs throughout the remainder of the contest and wrapped up the game in a hurry.

In an eight-run second inning, freshman Jena Cozza delivered the dagger when she sent a grand slam over left-center field, giving UMass a six-run lead. The Minutewomen did more damage in the fourth inning, scoring six runs on a Tiffany Meeks pinch-hit home run, a two-run double by Taylor Carbone and Lemire’s second three-run shot of the game.

St. Bonaventure managed only two runs in the game via a sacrifice fly and an RBI single by Katie Sinclair.

Raymond earned her sixth win of the season for UMass, allowing just three hits and one earned run in her complete game effort, while striking out five.

Marc Jean-Louis can be reached at mjeanlou@umass.edu and can be followed on Twitter @marc_jean93.

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