Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Kristi Sefanoni pleased with UMass softball’s start to season

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)
(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

Although a 4-5 start may seem unpromising, for the Massachusetts softball team it represents marked improvement from last season.

In just the second season under coach Kristi Stefanoni, the Minutewomen are showing signs of returning to the success the team experienced three years ago when it won the Atlantic 10 title.

“I’m pretty happy with what we’ve been doing so far,” Stefanoni said. “Last year at this time we were 2-7, this year we’re 4-5. Overall, are there things that I think we could be better at? Yeah, but they’re little things. Little defensive things and little offensive things but overall I’m pretty happy.”

The team’s resurgence has been in large part due to its success at the plate. Senior Quianna Diaz-Patterson and sophomores Tara Klee and Ashton Wince have been responsible for much of this damage.

All three players currently rank in the top six in A-10 batting average, with Diaz-Patterson leading the conference with a .533 average. The shortstop is also tied for first place in home runs (4) along with Klee and Fordham’s Brianna Turgeon, who has played seven more games than the UMass duo.

“Obviously (Quianna), she stands out above all the rest, but two other people who have come out and had a big two weeks are Ashton and Tara,” Stefanoni said. “They’re both really hitting the ball well, they’re both doing exceptionally well defensively. Those two have really picked it up a lot, they’re doing a great job.”

On the mound, the team has been a bit inconsistent. Freshman Meg Colleran has had a productive start to her collegiate career, posting a 2.75 ERA and accumulating 20 strikeouts over 28 innings.

The team’s other starting pitcher, senior Caroline Raymond, has struggled to open the season with a 5.49 ERA. Control has been a big issue for Raymond, who has 24 walks and four hit batters through 29.1 innings.

“The pitchers have been really focusing on hitting spots, so mostly focusing on location,” Stefanoni said. “It’s the season, we’re not going to make any big changes but we can make some adjustments and ‘shine the car’ a little bit, that’s what I was always taught when I was here.”

UMass is also looking to make improvements on defense, but weather has made things difficult. The large snowfall in Amherst this winter has limited the team to practicing in Boyden Gymnasium and has made it challenging to work on some of these issues.

“Defensively, the things we need to work on, it stinks because we need dirt in order to do it,” Stefanoni said. “We still go over certain plays that we have. We always do fundamentals so we’re always working on our glove work and footwork and stuff like that. Just little things to tweak here and there to keep us in game shape.”

The Minutewomen look to improve on their encouraging start this weekend when the team participates in the Louisville Classic. UMass will be in action five times over three days with games against Illinois State, Northwestern, Louisville and two matchups with Ball State.

“I’m excited for it, I think it’s great competition for us,” Stefanoni said.” Seeing teams from the (Mid-American Conference), the Big 10, the (Atlantic Coast Conference), I think it’s going to be really good for us.

“Louisville always puts on a good tournament. They always have good people in it so if anything I hope it raises our competition level and raises our RPI a bit and we come out of there with some good wins.”

Jamie Cushman can be reached at [email protected].

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