UMass softball looks to top Yale in home opener

By Matthew Zackman

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian
Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

It’s been more than 10 days since the Massachusetts softball team last played a game. After losing a pair to Saint Louis, the Minutewomen will open up their home schedule in a doubleheader against Yale on Wednesday.

Though the Minutewomen (3-14) have lost nine of their last 10 games, the Bulldogs (3-17) have been struggling as well, as they have lost 10 straight games.

UMass coach Kristi Stefanoni made it clear that the coaching staff is preparing for this game just like they would prepare for any other game despite the long layoff.

“Unfortunately we have yet to go out on our dirt,” Stefanoni said. “The way that we have been preparing has still been in our gym. We have been hitting in the cage, and taking ground balls on the gym floor. We will go out on the turf and hit fly balls.”

While the cancellations have put Stefanoni’s team at a disadvantage, she believes that her team’s mentality is in a very good place despite the extended time away from game action.

“They are very anxious and have been very gritty and tenacious at practice,” she said. “They’re definitely ready and they’re very excited. I have gotten text messages all day, ‘Coach are we still on, are we still going to play?’”

Stefanoni emphasized that there are other teams hit by cancellations and uneven practice schedules. However, she noted that “not having played a game since Saint Louis has been difficult.”

UMass will look to junior shortstop Quianna Diaz-Patterson to ignite its offensive attack, as she leads the team in both hits and batting average.

Fellow infielder Taylor Carbone, who has six hits in her last 11 at-bats, will also look to continue her hot streak for the Minutewomen.

As for the doubleheader with Yale, Stefanoni is expecting a good matchup for both sides.

“On paper we look rather similar, stat-wise it could go either way,” she said.

“I’m expecting a tough matchup against them,” she added. “I know their head coach and she is great at what she does. She has been turning their program around and I expect them to bring their best to us, and us to bring our best to them.”

The Minutewomen must watch out for the Bulldogs’ Tori Balta and Hannah Brennan. Balta leads the team in hits (20) and doubles (6) while Brennan leads the team in RBIs (7).

Yale’s primary pitcher, Lindsay Efflandt, has had a strong season despite having a 0-7 record. She has an ERA of 2.39, which leads the Ivy League.

The first game of the doubleheader is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. at Sortino Field.

Matthew Zackman can be reached at [email protected]