Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Big innings continue to cost UMass softball

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Quiana Diaz-Patterson jumps to avoid the ball as she runs to first base.  (Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

Quiana Diaz-Patterson jumps to avoid the ball as she runs to first base. (Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

If anyone at Sortino Field looked only at the results of the first inning, and third through seventh innings on the scoreboard, they would’ve thought the Massachusetts softball team was running on all cylinders Sunday afternoon.

But the second inning was not as kind for the Minutewomen as UMass gave up all six runs in its 6-0 loss to Fordham.

For the Minutewomen (8-19, 3-9 Atlantic 10), this is an all too familiar occurrence.

It seems like every game UMass plays, there is always one big inning where the opposing team opens up a lead that the Minutewomen can’t recover from.

“It has been a big issue for us throughout the season,” UMass coach Kristi Stefanoni said. “There always seems to be that inning where the other team gets to us and we struggle to get back from it.”

In Sunday’s second frame, walks and defensive miscues led to UMass’ demise. First baseman Bridget Lemire and pitcher Caroline Raymond were each charged with errors in the field, while Raymond gave up three of her seven walks in the inning.

The Rams (21-16, 7-4 A-10) capitalized on these mistakes behind center fielder Sydney Canessa’s grand slam over the left field wall and pitcher Rachel Gillen’s two-run single.

“That inning did it for us and that is something we really need to work on,” Stefanoni said. “We allowed it to just get away in all areas of the game. By slumping our shoulders a little bit and maybe mentally giving up early on, we were done in by a quality team on the other side of the diamond.”

The Minutewomen settled in after these early mistakes, holding Fordham’s lineup scoreless on four hits over the final five innings. But the damage was already done.

“We probably would still be playing this game if that inning didn’t happen,” Stefanoni said.

Despite all the negatives that came out of Sunday’s loss, Stefanoni said she was impressed with how Raymond bounced back from her early struggles.

“She really did settle in nice,” Stefanoni said. “Besides the second inning, there really weren’t many balls that were well-hit. If we can figure out how to come back from making mistakes early and she can just take care of what she needs to take care of, we should be okay.”

The prolonged innings in the field have hurt UMass all season but its inability to score runs has also been key in its struggles against Fordham – the Minutewomen were swept by the Rams in three games.

UMass had seven hits Sunday, including two each from Lindsey Zenk and Ashton Wince, and had a base runner on every inning but failed to find the scoreboard. A total of nine base runners were stranded.

Senior shortstop Quianna Diaz-Patterson said the problem with scoring runs is pretty clear.

“It’s all about just producing,” Diaz-Patterson said. “We need to get more runs on the board. You can’t win a game with no runs.”

Despite her team struggling to get runs, she said she is still hopeful the Minutewomen can change their fortunes.

“I have confidence that we can come back from this,” Diaz-Patterson said. “We have all the talent and potential to produce at a high level. It’s just about going out there and doing it.”

UMass will look to get back on track against a struggling Rhode Island team in the midst of a 15-game losing streak.

The teams will meet for a double header Tuesday with the first game starting at 3 p.m. in Kingston, Rhode Island. The second game will follow at 5 p.m.

Adam Aucoin can be reached at [email protected]

[liveblog]

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