UMass softball splits four-game Cougar Classic

By Jamie Cushman

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(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts softball team’s inconsistent play continued over the weekend as the Minutewomen finished 2-2 in the Cougar Classic in Charleston, South Carolina.

“I thought it was very up and down,” UMass coach Kristi Stefanoni said. “I think we need to be more consistent on the mound, we need to be better on defense and we need to not leave so many people on base offensively.”

Home runs continued to power the Minutewomen’s offense in a 5-4 win over Winthrop on Sunday. A two-run homer from sophomore Tara Klee in the first inning and a three-run homer from senior Quianna Diaz-Patterson in the fifth inning – her second of the weekend – provided all of UMass’ runs.

Senior Caroline Raymond earned her second win of the season, giving up four earned runs and striking out five in a complete game effort. Raymond showed off her ability as an escape artist, stranding 11 base runners over the course of the game.

The Minutewomen fell 2-0 to Appalachian State in the second leg of Sunday’s double-header. UMass earned five walks but tallied just three hits – all singles – in the team’s first shutout loss of the season.

Freshman Meg Colleran earned her second loss of the season, although she surrendered just two earned runs over six innings. Mountaineers’ senior Sarah Warnock provided the only scoring of the game with a two-out, two-RBI single in the bottom of the second.

UMass splits Saturday matchups

Sophomore Cote Clark’s walk-off single with the bases loaded led the Minutewomen to their first win of the weekend, 7-6, over Bowling Green.

UMass loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh courtesy of singles from senior Bridget Lemire, redshirt sophomore Whitney Cooper and senior Mikayla Panko.

Clark played the hero thanks to a key relief appearance by junior pitcher Emma Mendoker, who took over in the top of the inning with a one-run lead and a runner on second.

After a double from Bowling Green tied the game, Mendoker was in a jam with one out and the potential leading run on third base. But Mendoker forced a pop-up and ended the inning with a strikeout, setting the stage for Clark’s walk-off single.

“She came in and she did exactly what we needed her to do, but the other two are going to have to be a little more consistent,” said Stefanoni, who added that Mendoker was UMass’ best performer of the weekend.

A sloppy first inning doomed the Minutewomen in an 11-6 loss in the opening game of the weekend against Charleston Friday. After putting three runs on the board in the top of the inning, the Cougars quickly took back the lead with a seven-run inning, three of which were unearned.

An error by shortstop Gianna Hathaway and a catcher’s interference by sophomore Ashton Wince – both with two outs, contributed to the outburst – UMass couldn’t regain the lead for the remainder of the game.

The Minutewomen’s defense was Stefanoni’s biggest critique of tournament play.

“I didn’t think we played very good defense this entire weekend, at all,” she said. “That’s going to be something in the end that’s going to win games for us. Defense is going to be key for us, so that’s something we’re going to have to work on in the week and a half we have at practice to get ready for Louisville.”

A game against Pittsburgh was previously scheduled for this weekend but was cancelled due to the freezing temperatures in Charleston on Friday.

The Minutewomen don’t return to action until the Louisville Classic – a five-game tournament March 6-8 featuring matchups against Illinois State, Northwestern, Louisville and two games against Ball State.

Jamie Cushman can be reached at [email protected]