Plourde gets fifth no-hitter of the year in Minutewomen victory.

By Kara Deyermenjian

Pitcher Sara Plourde and the Massachusetts softball team defeated Quinnipiac 6-0 Tuesday afternoon at home, after Plourde threw her fifth no-hitter of the season and sixth of her career. With the win, UMass increases its winning streak to 13 and improves its record to 28-7, while the Bobcats fall to 21-21.

“It was just one of those days that we struggled and we didn’t hit the ball well; but luckily we had other things going for us,” said UMass coach Elaine Sortino. “Sara really struggled to get outs, but the thing about her is that she’s unflappable. She works through it and stays with it no matter what. That’s a nice demeanor for somebody who has such an effect on the game.”

Plourde, whose record improves to 27-5 with the win, had eight strikeouts and only allowed two batters to reach base on two walks. The sophomore is the nation’s leader in strikeouts and has a season total of 399 strikeouts along with 12 recorded shutouts.  

“I never know when I’m pitching a no-hitter,” Plourde said. “I don’t even realize until someone tells me after the game. I don’t want to get it in my head, so I don’t think about it.”

Defensive play for the Minutewomen was consistently strong throughout the afternoon, with Whitney Williams and Teea Rogers both snagging hard line drives out of the air.

“The team made a lot of good plays behind Sara, including Williams’ and Rogers’ two line drive stops. Those are the kinds of plays you need when a pitcher’s struggling and they made those plays happen,” Sortino said.

The Minutewomen came out strong and managed to score two unearned runs in the second inning after impressive base running by pinch-runners Christine Della Vecchia and Jill Andrews. With Della Vecchia and Andrews recording two stolen bases each, UMass stole a season-high seven bases.

The Bobcats could not get any momentum going before UMass struck again in the third inning, as Katie Bettencourt reached on an error. A single by Meghan Carta moved Bettencourt to third, and a sacrifice fly by Jessica Serio allowed her to score easily, as UMass increased its lead to 3-0.

The Minutewomen wasted no time tacking on more runs in the fourth inning, after Carly Normandin got on base on a fielders choice and then stole second to put her into scoring position. Kyllie Magill then hit a run batted in single, bringing Normandin home and closing the gap.

Sarah Reeves had momentum on her side as she came up to bat, and managed to launch a 2-1 pitch out of the complex. The two-run home run was her eighth of the season. Reeve’s impressive batting performances were recognized last week, as she earned the A-10 player of the week accolade.

Plourde contributed the win to solid performances by the entire team.

“I think it was a good win for both offense and defense,” she said. “We had a lot of good defensive plays; the team was a good hitting team. They put the ball in play and our defense had the chance to make our plays and they did it. They put everything away.”

Next up, UMass hits the road again to take on Saint Louis in a two-game Atlantic 10 series over the weekend.

“It’s definitely different playing at home rather than away, but no matter where you are you just have to go into each game with everything you’ve got,” Plourde said.

The battle against the Billikens will be the Minutewomen’s first conference game since they took on Charlotte back on April 8-9.

Kara Deyermenjian can be reached at [email protected]