Minutewomen rolling over competition

By Stephen Hewitt

Maria Uminski/Collegian
Maria Uminski/Collegian

It appears that the Massachusetts softball team has an extreme case of clutch, and the only prescription is more winning.

Not only have the Minutewomen (23-15, 10-3 Atlantic 10) won 14 of their last 15 games to move into first place in the A-10, but they have done it in exciting fashion, as they are 11-2 in contests decided by two runs or fewer since A-10 play began on March 18.

With nine games left in the regular season, the Maroon and White have capped both of their last two victories in walk-off fashion.

After Sara Plourde gave up an uncharacteristic four runs in the second inning in Game 2 of a doubleheader versus George Washington this past Sunday, UMass put on its rally caps and came back in spectacular fashion.

Down four runs in the sixth, Audrey Boutin sparked the comeback with a single, which was followed by a Stephanie Mayne walk. With one out, Tiffany Meeks laced a single to bring the Minutewomen within three, which was later followed by a Jordan Storro RBI single to make it a 4-2 ballgame.

After leaving the bases loaded, UMass returned to the dish in the bottom of the seventh, still down 4-2, with its last chance to tie and extend the game.

Lindsey Webster led it off with a single to center, setting up the heroics for Boutin to finish the rally that she started an inning earlier. She came through, and lifted a monumental home run to right field to square the game at 4-4, which forced the game into extra innings where Kyllie Magill drove Storro in from second base on an RBI single to complete the dramatic victory.

If that wasn’t enough, the Minutewomen provided another opportunity for heart-stopping action in their game with Boston University on Wednesday afternoon.

After capturing a 2-0 lead courtesy of an RBI single by Magill in the third inning and Storro’s first career home run in the fifth, the Terriers battled with their backs against the wall, when April Setterlund delivered a crushing two-run home run on the first pitch she saw to tie the game in the seventh.

Carrying on with the tradition, UMass wasn’t ready to back down, as they quickly took advantage of BU relief pitcher Kelley Engman in the bottom half of the inning after starter Erin Schuppert was taken out following a Cyndil Matthew lead-off single.

Magill singled, and Webster was intentionally walked to load the bases, and soon enough, the stage was set for more Boutin heroics. She came through once again, as she struck a grounder up the middle, and the throw home was misfired to give the Minutewomen another thrilling, final at-bat victory.

With a crucial two-game series against second-place Fordham on Friday and Saturday and a doubleheader on Sunday against La Salle, the emergence of a struggling offense to compliment Plourde’s dominance in the circle is certainly great timing, and will do wonders of confidence for the squad as it sets its sights on the postseason in the coming weeks.

“I think it’s our passion and fire for the game, and it’s really starting to show up,” said Plourde in a UMassAthletics.com interview. “Everyone’s showing how much they really love the game. We’re starting to get our confidence, knowing that we can actually do it, which is helping so much. And I think that’s really starting to pull through for us.”

Stephen Hewitt can be reached at [email protected]