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Minutewomen continue to show offensive improvement

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

When the University of Massachusetts softball team got off to a 3-14 start, head coach coach Kristi Stefanoni said that her team needed to avoid giving up big innings that allowed their opponents to run away with the win.

These days, it is the Minutewomen who are the ones putting up big numbers against the opposing teams, combining to win their last two games by a combined score of 27-10. Stefanoni said that her team’s performance over the past week has been great to see as it proves how hard they’ve been working at practice.

“I think it’s a true testament to their hard work and dedication to the game, and not giving up on anything,” she said. “They’ve been doing everything we’ve asked them to do and more, so I really think it’s pure dedication to wanting to get better every day and the true passion they have for this team.”

During UMass’ recent sweep over Saint Bonaventure, the Minutewomen were able to showcase their true offensive strengths, putting up several crooked numbers in the first game scoring eight and six runs in two separate innings en rout to a 17-2 victory.

In the second game of the doubleheader, UMass scored a total of nine runs in two innings, completing a 10-8 comeback over the Bonnies. Stefanoni said it’s fantastic to see her team put up these big innings against opponents, and not the other way around.

“The first game we had versus Saint Bonaventure the second inning was big for us, I think we put up three runs,” she said. “After we allowed them to come back and score two, I brought them into the huddle and told them that this team wasn’t going to lay down because we scored three runs against them in the first inning. To go back out there and have those big innings where we scored eight and six runs felt really good.”

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for the Minutewomen’s recent offensive surge has been junior Bridget Lemire, who just recently was awarded Atlantic-10 Player of the Week, along with pitcher Caroline Raymond. Lemire went on a tear this past week, hitting .583 with four home runs, 10 runs batted in, and six runs. She now leads the team with five home runs, and has seen her batting average skyrocket to .357.

“I’m really proud of Bridget,” Stefanoni said. “She has been working her tail off on really becoming a prolific hitter for this team and someone we can call on and depend on. I can’t say enough about Bridget, she’s come such a long way.”

Although her team has won seven of its last eight, Stefanoni made it clear that she is all about the future, and has told her players that the past is the past and they need to continue moving forward.

“I think that they’re going to need to continue working hard at practice, they can’t lay down for anything,” Stefanoni said. “You can never put your shoulder back on the chair and relax because the minute you do that, somebody is going to pass you. We can’t look back at the runs we’ve scored and the hits we’ve gotten because it’s in the past.”

“I keep telling the kids every day to keep their eyes on the prize, and if we keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll be satisfied in the end.”

Jason Kates can be reached at jkates@umass.edu.

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