Plourde, Sanders hold George Washington hitless in doubleheader

By Jeffrey R. Larnard

A doubleheader can’t go much worse for a team.

Luckily for the Massachusetts softball team, they were on the better side of the doubleheader at George Washington, holding the Colonials hitless in both games.

In Game 1, pitchers Sara Plourde and Bailey Sanders combined to throw a five-inning perfect game, as No. 24 UMass (17-7, 2-0 Atlantic 10) won 17-0, before Plourde threw a five-inning no-hitter in Game 2. Plourde walked one batter in the second game – the only base runner for GW (4-17, 1-5 A-10) on the day – as UMass won again by the run-rule, 11-0.

“We got solid pitching from both Sara and Bailey,” UMass coach Elaine Sortino said.

“They both had command on the mound.”

Plourde’s walk came against the first batter of Game 2, but the runner was taken off of the base paths by a double play and the sophomore retired every batter after that while striking out eight. In Game 1, Plourde struck out seven in four perfect innings, before giving way to Bailey Sanders who struck out all three batters in the fifth inning to complete the perfect game.

The doubleheader was the beginning of UMass’ A-10 schedule, while George Washington already played four conference games.

Senior Carly Normandin (5-for-7 with three RBIs and four runs on the day) started the day with a double and advanced to third on an error on the play. Two batters later, the centerfielder scored on a Sarah Reeves single, giving the Minutewomen a 1-0 lead. Reeves led the team in Game 1, going 5-for-5 with two runs and three RBIs.

“We came out with a very aggressive kind of mindset and we set the tone in the first inning with very aggressive base running and jumped out early in both games.”

UMass sent nine batters to the plate in the second inning as they brought their lead to four on four hits, but left the bases loaded.

After seven hits and nine runs were scored in the top of the third inning, the Minutewomen led 13-0 and added another four runs in the fourth inning before being quieted down in the final frame of the game.

It took UMass’ offense a little longer to get to the Colonials pitching in Game 2, as it held a 3-0 lead after the second inning, but did not open it up until a six-run fourth inning.

Jessica Serio led off the inning with a single through the middle of the diamond and moved to second base after Michele Libby drew a walk. After a Kyllie Magill flied out to left field, freshman Teea Rogers singled to load the bases.

The Colonials responded by switching pitchers, but found the same results as Meghan Carta singled to drive in Serio. Normandin reached on a fielder’s choice after Libby was thrown out at the plate.

UMass’ second run of the inning came in the next at bat as Katie Bettencourt walked to force home Rogers. Reeves followed with a grand slam for her only hit of the game.

Carta drove in the Minutewomen’s final two runs of the game with a home run to right-center field, driving in Magill who singled to left field earlier in the inning.

“I thought we hit the ball really, really hard today,” Sortino said. “I thought we had great at bats and minimal strikeouts, [against] a pitcher who really moved the ball around a lot, it wasn’t like she was throwing the ball down the middle of the plate.”

UMass plays Tuesday in a doubleheader against non-conference foe Dartmouth, in its home opener of the 2010 season. The first game will take place at 2 p.m. followed by the second game of the day at 4 p.m.

Jeffrey R. Larnard can be reached at [email protected]