UMass softball looks to extend winning streak when it takes on Connecticut

By Matthew Zackman

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian
Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

Editor’s Note: There was a factual error at the beginning of this story. UMass can not complete the season sweep of UConn with a win on Tuesday. The two teams meet again on April 23.

In the midst of a season-high four-game winning streak, the Massachusetts softball team will look to keep its winning ways going and complete the season sweep of Connecticut on Tuesday afternoon.

After beating the Huskies (7-25) 8-7 in late February, the Minutewomen (7-14) know that they’ll be tested by UConn once again on Tuesday.

“They are scrappy and very aggressive, it’s always a slugfest when we play UConn, no matter what,” UMass coach Kristi Stefanoni said. “No matter what our records are, ever, it is always a battle when we play UConn.”

UMass will rely on the unexpected consistency that the freshmen have brought to the team, particularly from catcher Ashton Wince, who hit a grand slam against Dayton on Saturday, as well as second baseman Jena Cozza, right fielder Cote Clark and pitcher Tara Klee. Stefanoni said that they have, “really stepped up and done big things.” Stefanoni said.

Stefanoni said that she knew the freshmen were capable of contributing, but did not anticipate how quickly they would become an integral part of the team, especially in late game situations.

The Minutewomen have also gotten significant contributions from Quianna Diaz-Patterson. Over the last four games, the shortstop has collected eight hits in 14 at bats. Diaz-Patterson leads the Atlantic 10 in batting average, hitting a torrid .438.

Junior Quianna Diaz-Patterson. (Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)
Junior Quianna Diaz-Patterson. (Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

The four games that Diaz-Patterson hit over .500 all took place at home, while the Minutewomen as a team have also seen the same success, boasting a perfect record when they play in Amherst.

“Although we don’t really talk about it a lot … it’s always a really special feeling to be undefeated at home because it’s where you feel comfortable,” Stefanoni said. “[Early on], we hadn’t hit our groove … we hadn’t gotten outside a lot. Now we have had some time to be on dirt more and the outfield has not seen a ceiling in a really long time.”

Being outside and being able to practice together as a team has been a major plus in the eyes of Stefanoni and can partially be attributed to the winning streak that UMass will look to extend against UConn.

Stefanoni also emphasized that over the past few weeks she’s starting to see her players having more fun, which goes hand-in-hand with winning games.

“The team has been working more than ever to really find any way we possibly can to get better and have fun, as well as get ourselves in the best possible position to win,” she said.

The Minutewomen will be watching out for Valerie Sadowl and Audrey Grinell against the Huskies on Tuesday. The sophomore-senior duo has combined for nine home runs and 33 RBIs. Sadowl leads the team in batting average (.346) and has been very productive at the plate over the last several games.

Stefanoni made it clear that even though the Huskies have struggled over the last couple of weeks, they will not underestimate them and expect another tough matchup.

Tuesday’s game is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. at Sortino Field.

Matthew Zackman can be reached at [email protected]