UMass softball tries to turn things around against strong opponents over the weekend

By Jesse Mayfield Sheehan

Cade Belisle/Collegian

The Massachusetts softball team will face some of its toughest conference opponents yet for the first four games of a seven-game road trip over the weekend, as it tries to bounce back from a pair of tough losses this past weekend.

UMass (14-19, 8-4 Atlantic 10) starts off the weekend by taking on Saint Joseph’s on Friday at 3 p.m. and  Saturday at noon in Philadelphia. The Minutewomen will close out the weekend with a doubleheader against Temple on Sunday, which is set to start at noon.

The Hawks come into the matchup with the best record in the Atlantic 10 and a perfect record at home. The Hawks (28-6-1, 11-3 A-10) are 11-0 when playing in Philadelphia.

Saint Joseph’s boasts the best pitching staff in the league, led by pitcher Taryn Ashway, who leads the Atlantic 10 in wins (22), ERA (1.55) and is second in strikeouts (149).

Saint Joseph’s doesn’t slack off on the offensive side either, with a team average of .290, just above UMass’ team average of .288, which is good for fourth in the conference.

The Owls (22-22, 9-5 A-10) enter the weekend trailing the Minutewomen by one game in the Atlantic 10 standings.

Temple’s pitching has had its share of struggles this year, as the team is currently second to last in the conference with a 5.63 ERA. However, the Owls’ offense picks up the slack, as they lead the Atlantic 10 in runs scored (258) and are third in batting average (.291).

The Temple offense is led by catcher Stephanie Pasquale, who leads both the Owls and the conference with a batting average of .454. She has set or is approaching seven different single-season and career records at Temple, and leads the country as the toughest player to strike out.

UMass will be trying to turn things around after being swept by George Washington in a doubleheader on Sunday. After a tough pair of losses in which nothing seemed to work for the Minutewomen, coach Elaine Sortino said the team needed to work on everything.

Sortino said the team is heading into a crucial part of the season and they will have to work hard to ensure that they make the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

“The season is in our hands right now, and we have a lot of work to do, you know, securing a spot,” Sortino said after the doubleheader loss.

Jesse Mayfield-Sheehan can be reached at [email protected] and can be followed on Twitter @jgms88.