UMass softball looks to get back in the win column against Rhode Island

By Joey Saade

Cade Belisle/Collegian

Riding a three-game losing streak, the Massachusetts softball team will look to regain some momentum in a doubleheader matchup at Rhode Island on Tuesday.

After stringing together a season-high seven-game winning streak just two weeks ago, the Minutewomen (15-22, 9-7 Atlantic 10) have found themselves in a funk as of late, losing five of their last six games.

During that span, both the offense and pitching have had their fair share of struggles.

On the mound, Caroline Raymond (12-11) gave up 20 earned runs in her last three starts, including a forgettable effort against Temple on Sunday in which she gave up seven home runs in a doubleheader.  Raymond only struck out three batters in those games, compared to the 17 walks and 24 hits she allowed.

UMass coach Elaine Sortino said that fatigue likely played a factor in Raymond’s troubling performance over the weekend.

“She had a real rough outing (this past weekend),” Sortino said. “She basically pitched her heart out on Saturday in the extra-inning game against St. Joe’s, and was the only pitcher we had, so she was clearly running out of gas.”

At the plate, outside of strong performances from Cyndil Matthew and Quianna Diaz-Patterson, the UMass bats have been quieter than usual. Despite connecting on 27 hits in the past three games, the Minutewomen have struggled to capitalize with runners on base.

Although Sortino is pleased with the offense’s overall production, she knows there is room for improvement.

“We’re spotting runs on the board, but we could do better with coming up with runners in scoring position,” she said. “We’ve just got to get the right hit at the right time.”

Up next for the Minutewomen is a doubleheader on Tuesday against a struggling Rhode Island (9-32, 2-13 A-10) squad, which have lost its last 13 games.

With the exception of its last doubleheader against Saint Joseph’s in which both games were close (losing 1-0 and 2-1), the Rams have had trouble staying competitive during its 13-game skid.

The Rams’ pitching staff is currently second worst in the conference in earned run average (5.92) and opponent’s batting average (.321).

Rhode Island’s offense is also at the bottom of the conference in most statistical categories, including fewest runs per game (3.1) and second-fewest hits per game (6.4).

With a struggling Rams squad up next on the schedule, Sortino wants her team to play up to its capabilities, and build its own winning streak heading into the home stretch of the season.

“We have got to do everything we can do to take both games,” she said. “We just have to be prepared. It’s crunch time of the season.”

First pitch of Tuesday’s doubleheader is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Joey Saade can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Jsaade1225.