Minutewomen go for 6th, 7th straight at home this weekend

By Pete Vasquez

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Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

On Sunday, the Massachusetts softball team will look to sweep its third-straight doubleheader as it hosts St. Bonaventure at the UMass Softball Complex.

The Minutewomen (14-14, 5-3 Atlantic 10) are riding high on a five-game win streak, the last of which was a 3-2 win at Boston University. Before that, UMass made work of visitors Dartmouth and Saint Louis, sweeping both doubleheaders to gain ground in the A-10 standings. Sara Plourde collected two no-hitters in five days and the Minutewomen allowed only five runs in the four games.

St. Bonaventure (6-11, 3-5 A 10) is also feeling good recently, having won three of its last four games after losing four in a row.

The Bonnies split a doubleheader with Dayton last Sunday despite scoring 16 total runs on the day. They will play Rhode Island on Friday and Saturday before coming to UMass.

St. Bonaventure currently sits in ninth place out of 11 teams in the conference.    The Bonnies went 13-27 overall last year and 7-11 during conference play. While the Minutewomen claimed the No. 1 spot in the A-10 tournament, the Bonnies did not make the playoffs as one of the top six seeds.

Both teams were supposed to meet last season in New York, but the doubleheader was cancelled and never made up.

UMass faced St. Bonaventure two years ago in Amherst and won the two-game series, 4-0 and 10-2 in five innings.

Sara Plourde, a freshman at the time, got the win in Game 2 and struck out 12 hitters in her five innings of two-run ball.

However, this time she will have to deal with the top offense in the conference.

St. Bonaventure is far and away the current leader in the A-10 in batting average with a team mark of .289. Yet, the Bonnies have played only 17 games on the season, 10 less than the Minutewomen, whose national recognition gets them into more preseason exhibition games.

Perhaps the Bonnies’ best hitter is Maureen Wells, who, in 13 games, is third in the conference with a .400 batting average. Other conference leaders on the Bonnies include Jessenia Andujar and Ashley Nowak, currently batting .360 each, and Kara Morenus, who holds a .333 average. This quartet claims four out of the top 15 spots in the A-10 individual batting category.

Surprisingly, no one on the team has more than four home runs.

The difference between St. Bonaventure and the conference’s top teams rests on pitching. While UMass’ pitching staff has compiled a miniscule 2.05 team earned run average, St. Bonaventure’s ERA sits at an inflated 5.27. The Bonnies have given up the second most earned runs in the conference, besting only Rhode Island.

In 187.2 innings pitched, the Minutewomen have tallied 281 strikeouts. The Bonnies, on the other hand, have produced only 58 strikeouts in 103.2 innings.

Junior Kyllie Magill will get the first chance to feast on their staff. The UMass leadoff hitter is living up to her unofficial “sparkplug” title by going 6-for-17 (.353) with five RBIs during the team’s winning streak.

UMass has not lost to St. Bonaventure in the regular season since May 5, 2006 when the Bonnies beat the Minutewomen, 5-3.

Pete Vasquez can be reached at [email protected]