Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Minutewomen take part in USF Under Armour Showcase

By Michael Wood

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After rain washed away last weekend’s tournament in Georgia, the Massachusetts softball team will travel to Florida this weekend to take part in the USF Under Armour Showcase.

The five-game set starts on Friday when the Minutewomen will play their first doubleheader of the weekend against Toledo and South Florida.

UMass (2-10) has never faced the Rockets in softball before, but the two will be similarly matched when they meet on Friday. Toledo has been outscored 77-28 in its first 10 games and currently sits at 1-9 on the year. The Rockets have two players batting over .300, one more than the Minutewomen, and have given up 19 unearned runs on defense.

The Bulls have fared better in their first 20 games this spring, going 11-9 and using four pitchers to win games. Gina Kafalas leads the squad in both batting average (.379) and stolen bases (9).

UMass’ Sara Plourde has experience pitching against USF, striking out 14 last season and allowing three runs. In that game, Plourde received a win after former Minutewoman Michelle Libby hit a two-run single late in the game for the go-ahead run.

A day later, UMass will play another doubleheader, this time taking on Colorado State, then Green Bay for the first time in the program’s history.

The Rams are also struggling this year, going just 4-15 so far. UMass is 2-1 against them in history, dropping its most recent meeting last season, 2-0. Brittany Palish is the driving force of Colorado State’s offense, batting .407, while Alysa Greckel represents the power threat, tallying six home runs and 16 RBIs.

What the Rams lack, however, is pitching. Kelsey O’Brien has seen the most time on the mound thus far and has posted an earned run average above 10 in just 36 innings.

In the nightcap, UMass will take on Green Bay, which it has also never played before. The Phoenix have only played four games and are 1-3. Allison Goecks is the Phoenix’s best hurler, recording a 2.47 ERA.

Play will conclude on Sunday against St. John’s. UMass has never faced the Red Storm either, and will look to Plourde to contain Chelsea Durning, who is currently batting .403. The Red Storm are 7-12 and also have four players with double-digits in RBIs.

The Maroon and White are entering the weekend on an eight-game skid. Over that span, they have been shut out five times and only scored more than one run on two occasions. Junior pitcher Sara Plourde has had a slow start to the season, giving up 29 runs (20 earned), 40 hits and 32 walks.

The offense has struggled to score as well, not offering Plourde any run support. Right now, Kyllie Magill leads all Minutewomen with a .306 batting average, 11 hits and six runs scored. She’s the only player on the team hitting over .300 and the next closest player, Tiffany Meeks, sits at .235. The team as a whole is batting .174 with only 25 runs scored and 87 strikeouts through 12 games.

Following the USF Under Armour Showcase, UMass will travel to North Carolina to open up Atlantic 10 play in a two-game series against Charlotte.

Michael Wood can be reached at [email protected]

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