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UConn, Boston College up next for UMass softball

(Jong Man Kim/Collegian)

Fresh off a big conference weekend in Philadelphia, the Massachusetts softball team shifts its focus to a couple of regional opponents with non-conference games against Connecticut and Boston College.

Playing a repeat of last week’s schedule, this time at home, UMass (22-19, 10-3 Atlantic 10) will host UConn (15-26, 1-10 American Athletic Conference) on Tuesday and Boston College (27-18, 11-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) on Wednesday.

Having fallen 7-1 against the Huskies last week in a lackluster performance, the Minutewomen are looking to prove that they are a better team than they showed in the first meeting.

“We are [looking for redemption],” UMass coach Kristi Stefanoni said. “It’s always good for UMass when we can do well against our regional competitors, so I am hoping to see a new team out there on Tuesday.”

The Minutewomen struggled to get anything going offensively during their trip to Storrs, Connecticut only managing to push across a single run on six hits all afternoon. Meanwhile, UConn tagged UMass freshman Candace Denis for six runs (four earned) in just four innings en route to a blowout victory.

“Last week I said the reason we lost was because we just didn’t play good softball,” Stefanoni said. “[Not] executing plays, too many walks, not being aggressive at the plate. We’ve been doing that since then, so I am hoping that it carries over.”

A rematch with in-state rival BC is on deck for Wednesday. The Minutewomen look to repeat last week’s success, having picked up a 2-1 win in Chestnut Hill on the back of a stellar complete-game, one-run performance from junior right-hander Meg Colleran.

The Eagles boast a strong pitching staff that has posted a combined 2.28 earned run average thus far, while holding opponents to a combined .222 batting average. Senior outfielder Taylor Coroneos leads BC offensively, hitting .331 with 12 runs batted in this season. Coroneos is followed by a slew of sluggers, including senior infielder Tatiana Cortez, who is hitting .309 while driving in 38 runs and launching nine home runs this season.

UMass will face two tough tests this week, but the Minutewomen are riding high after sweeping Saint Joseph’s in two games to move into first place in the A-10 for the first time all season.

“They are feeling very confident, happy and proud,” Stefanoni said, “as they should be. We haven’t been in this position for some time now, and they are handling it very well. I am really proud of this entire group.”

Colleran’s dominance drives UMass

Colleran’s spectacular second half continued over the weekend, as the UMass junior picked up two wins and held St. Joe’s to just one run in 14 innings.

Along with a victory against BC, Colleran went 3-0 last week, and is 12-1 in her last 13 starts, winning an A-10 pitcher of the week nod for her troubles.

Only allowing one earned run in 21 innings across those three starts, her earned run average was 0.33 last week, a miniscule mark that was enough to give Colleran her first A-10 pitcher of the week title this season. Now holding a 13-9 record with a 2.57 ERA, her continued dominance will be key for the first place Minutewomen as they continue to chase their first A-10 title in five years.

First pitch against the Huskies is set for 4 p.m. on Tuesday at Sortino Field.

Amin Touri can be reached at atouri@umass.edu.

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