Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Balschmiter dominates Dartmouth in shutout win

By Ryan Fleming, Collegian Staff

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It appears as if the nothing deters the Massachusetts softball team. The Minutewomen can win in the sun, home, away, with their coach absent and unfortunately for Dartmouth, in the rain.

Late Wednesday afternoon, UMass defeated Dartmouth, 5-0, in a shortened 5-1/2 inning game due to heavy rain. The precipitation, though, held off for the most part until the later innings where the Minutewomen (16-6, 4-0 Atlantic 10) seemed to play at their best.

‘I thought we started off, like, confused or something,’ UMass coach Elaine Sortino said. ‘I can’t really put my finger on it but it definitely got better. We did a better job of handling [Dartmouth pitcher Hillary Barker], but quite frankly I think it took us too many batters to adjust to the pitcher.’

Again, UMass was led by senior pitcher Brandice Balschmiter on the mound. The senior struck out 13 of the 19 batters she faced en route to a one-hit performance. Similar to her last appearance Friday against St. Bonaventure, the senior had a bit of trouble hitting her spots early on and took the first couple innings to loosen her arm. But nevertheless, she tallied strikeout after strikeout.

‘I thought I did better today,’ Balschmiter said. ‘I focused on staying on the mound so I wasn’t called for those pesky illegal pitches. So, overall I think I did a better job of that.’

It took the rest of the Minutewomen about the same time to fully grasp the game. Their first time around UMass looked flat, striking out looking, barely getting a piece of the ball and giving Balschmiter only a few minutes to take a break in the dugout.

‘I think I was able to figure out the strike zone more ‘- noticing what [the umpire] was looking for,’ said Balschmiter. ‘In the first inning I was throwing at what my strike zone is. I had to adjust to what the umpire wanted.’

As the rain started coming down in the fourth inning UMass’ game started to pick up.

Leadoff hitter Carly Normandin started the rally with a sharp single to right field, which was followed by Kyllie Magill sending a hot shot to shortstop, which was then misplayed by Kirsten Costello. Whitney Mollica then sent a perfect bunt down the first baseline to move the runners to second and third.

Two batters later Sarah Reeves sent a 1-1 pitch by the pitcher and into center field, driving both runs home.

UMass continued to pressure the Big Green (10-12, 3-1 Ivy) the following inning.

Davina Hernandez singled up the middle on the first pitch she saw. She was there for a mere two pitches when Whitney Williams’ sacrifice bunt moved her to second. Magill, continuing to increase her offensive presence, doubled to left field bringing around Hernandez to stretch UMass’ lead to 3-0.

After Mollica was hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second, Salato then increased UMass’ lead to 5-0 hitting a two-run triple off the right field wall putting the game away.

‘Our timing was better,’ Sortino said of her team’s second go-around with Barker. ‘We just didn’t have any sense of rhythm our first time through.’

The top of the sixth followed like many of the innings before it ‘- with the Big Green going down in order.

The Minutewomen will play a doubleheader this afternoon against Vermont at the UMass Softball Complex.

Game notes

Balschmiter now has 56 shutouts for her career and 10 this season. After her 13 strikeouts, the senior has now amassed 990 for her career. With 10 more Balschmiter will become only the third active player in the country with 1,000.

Ryan Fleming can be reached at [email protected]

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