UMass streak snapped

By Ryan Fleming, Collegian Staff

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

The regular season for the Massachusetts softball team has been a time of streaks, records and moments to remember. But one certain streak ended in UMass’ 5-4 loss to Fordham in the second game of their doubleheader on Sunday afternoon.

Before the loss, the Minutewomen had won 54 straight games at home, and had a 170-14-1 record at the UMass Softball Complex.

After Brandice Balschmiter pitched a one-hit gem in the day’s earlier game at noon, coach Elaine Sortino opted to go with junior pitcher Bailey Sanders in Game 2.

Sanders’ outing didn’t go how Sortino planned at all. The junior had her worst outing of the year only lasting one inning, surrendering four runs and two home runs.

‘Bailey has just been working on stuff and I figured I’d get her out there, get her some innings, but I didn’t expect it to implode,’ Sortino said.

After Melissa Andrews sent a ball over the fence to put the Rams up 4-0, Sortino handed the ball to Sara Plourde. Plourde only lasted two batters, walking freshman Lindsey Kay Bright, then giving up a single to Mary Beth Puccio to drive in another run.

‘The game got away quick,’ Sortino said.

Wasting no time, Sortino walked to the mound for the final time in the game, this time to remove her team’s second pitcher and replace her with Balschmiter.

Balschmiter served as the perfect reliever in a time when her team needed her most. The senior struck out 11 over 6-2/3 innings pitched, while surrendering only two hits.

The Minutewomen (35-8, 16-2 Atlantic 10) managed to get back into the game, climbing back within reach of Fordham (36-20, 13-7 Atlantic 10) after every inning that went by.

‘The good part of this game is that we did come back,’ Sortino said. ‘We could have rolled over and died. We were down 5-0 and we chipped away and chipped away.’

UMass loaded the bases in the second and fifth innings, only manufacturing one run in those two frames. Jessica Serio walked with the bases loaded in the second inning to put the Minutewomen on the board.

‘We had the opportunities with people on base ‘- we left nine on base,’ Sortino said. ‘In order to come back, you have to put the ball in play. The pop-up and double-play with bases loaded is just not good softball.’

Carly Normandin continued to pace the team atop the order, lining a single to right field in the third. The ball got by the right fielder Erin Fisher, letting Normandin scamper to third base. Whitney Williams followed Normandin, lifting the ball foul to left field. Normandin tagged up on third and beat Kay Bright’s throw to the plate.

The Minutewomen were held without a run in the fourth and fifth inning but inched closer thanks again to Normandin. After Davina Hernandez led off the inning with a walk, Normandin sent a pitch from Fordham pitcher Jen Mineau, down the right field line and over the fence to pull UMass to within just one run.

After Balschmiter shut down the Rams again in the top half of the seventh, it was up to the bottom of UMass’ lineup to create some offense.

Mineau managed to get the Minutewomen to go 1-2-3 with Kyllie Magill, grounding out to third base to end the game.

Earlier Sunday afternoon, UMass beat Fordham, 4-0, behind Balschmiter’s 13 strike-out performance. Samantha Salato hit her 15th home run of the season ‘- tying UMass’ single-season record.

Despite her accomplishment, Salato didn’t recognize it as anything special, and like Balschmiter has stated many times, the outcome of the team is more important to them.

The Minutewomen also played host to La Salle on Friday and Saturday afternoon. UMass won both by scores of 5-0 and 8-0, respectively. Highlighting the two games was Balschmiter’s no-hitter on Friday afternoon.

Ryan Fleming can be reached at [email protected]