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

Caroline Raymond using no-hitter as momentum for stretch run

Caroline Raymond  pitched her first no-hitter career. (Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)
Caroline Raymond pitched her first no-hitter career. (Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

Massachusetts softball pitcher Caroline Raymond joined an exclusive club of pitchers April 14, recording her first career no-hitter in a 14-0 win over Rhode Island.

The last pitcher to complete such a feat for UMass was Sara Plourde in 2010, when she allowed just two walks while dealing eight strikeouts against Quinnipiac for the then-No. 22 Minutewomen.

Raymond said she wasn’t thinking any differently entering last week’s matchup compared to how she focused in past outings; she just wanted to do her job the way it needed to be done, and hopefully a win would follow.

But Raymond certainly never expected what came next.

She allowed just one walk with no hits in a mercy-rule shortened five-inning victory. Raymond admitted that throwing a no-hitter had always been in the back of her mind as something she wanted to accomplish.

After reaching the milestone she never truly expected to happen, Raymond said she was happy to share the experience with her teammates.

“It was definitely a good feeling,” Raymond said with a big smile. “The best part was that everybody on my team and the coaches were so proud of me. I didn’t really think too much of it because I was just worried about winning the game but everyone was really supportive and it was just a good day to be a UMass softball player.”

While Raymond downplayed the significance of her performance against the Rams, Minutewomen coach Kristi Stefanoni said she was excited for the pitcher’s achievement.

“I was thrilled for her,” Stefanoni said. “Caroline is a great pitcher. For her to get (her first career no-hitter) her senior year, I was overly thrilled for her. She was the first one I grabbed and hugged (after the game ended).”

Although Stefanoni said she was aware of what was unfolding throughout the game, Raymond said she had no idea she had a no-hitter going until the last few innings.

On the very first play of the game, URI hit a tough grounder to third baseman Anna Kelley, where she misplayed the ball allowing the runner to reach first base on a fielding error. But due to the difficulty of the play, Raymond didn’t know if the sequence had been ruled a hit or an error.

Since she wasn’t aware of the impending feat, Raymond said it helped mitigate the pressure of completing the task late in the game, therefore making it easier for her to concentrate on pitching well.

The fact that her first pitch came after the UMass offense already provided a 5-0 lead in the first inning also helped in her concentration.

“One hit or one walk was not going to alter the ending of the game,” she said. “I was able to kind of just go out there and be free and just throw my pitches and just get outs.  Having those runs early on the board obviously took a lot of pressure off of my shoulders.”

Prior to the victory, Raymond struggled on the mound to begin the year with a 4.71 ERA through 17 starts. Holding the top spot in the rotation, she was responsible for pitching the most games on the staff as the team started 8-19.

Walks were always a big issue, as she admitted that the total has been “elevated all season” and is her “Achilles heel.”

Since then, however, the Minutewomen have caught fire going on a 6-1 run in their last seven games. Raymond pitched in five of those matchups, allowing no earned runs twice to lower her ERA almost by a whole run to 3.83.

“She’s been pretty much dialed in since that day,” Stefanoni said. “It’s just one of those things where you say, ‘It’s now or never.’

“For Caroline, she’s been a tough kid for the five years she’s been here, and it’s just a matter of her saying, ‘Forget what has happened in the past, it’s the here and now.’”

“I think it helped my confidence,” Raymond said. “It shows me that if I go at hitter the way I know I can and throw my pitches and work ahead, good things will happen. We got to use the momentum just to keep going and collect wins for UMass softball.”

Tom Mulherin can be reached at [email protected]

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