UMass softball looks to continue win streak against Marist

By Jamie Cushman

(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)
(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

Facing Rhode Island on Tuesday may have been just what the Massachusetts softball team needed.

The Rams have struggled all year, and the Minutewomen took advantage to the tune of two wins, seven home runs and a no-hitter from senior Caroline Raymond.

With a successful afternoon in the books, UMass (10-19, 5-9 Atlantic 10) has a quick turnaround as the team prepares to face non-conference foe Marist (16-18).

“I’m excited for it,” UMass coach Kristi Stefanoni said. “They were a regional team a couple of years ago, I have a lot of respect for (Coach) Joe (Ausanio), he’s been there a really long time, and I think it will be good mid-week competition for us to get ready for St. Bonaventure.”

Both teams will be entering the doubleheader with some momentum. Marist took both games of a doubleheader against Holy Cross on Tuesday, and will be looking to bring their season record back to .500 with two more wins on Thursday.

The Red Foxes’ offense is powered mainly by underclassmen. Sophomore Rebecca Freeman leads the team with a .379 batting average, good for seventh in the MAAC.

Freshman Gabrielle Kelliher leads the team with five home runs after adding a homer in both games against Holy Cross. Fellow freshman Samantha Reilly leads the team in RBIs with 22.

The biggest advantage for the Red Foxes is on the mound. The team’s 3.67 ERA is good for third in the MAAC. On the other side, pitching has been a big factor in UMass’s struggles this season, ranking second-to-last in the A-10 with a 5.03 ERA.

The team is set to use all four of their pitchers on Thursday against Marist, according to Stefanoni. They will need to be at the top of their game because the Marist offense has been hot recently, averaging 8.5 runs over the past six games.

The Minutewomen will look to senior Quianna Diaz-Patterson and her conference leading .512 batting average to once again spark the team’s offense.

Although these two games do not count toward the conference standings, Stefanoni approaches them the same, and does not view them as any less important.

“We’re going to go at it just as if it was conference,” Stefanoni said. “It’s still a win or a loss on our schedule and I know we want two more wins going into the weekend to feel real good about ourselves.”

With just 15 games remaining on the team’s regular season schedule, now is not the time for the Minutewomen to relax.

“We’re trying to win and compete,” Stefanoni said. “It’s not just anybody’s chance to get out there and see what they have; I want to win, so I am going to put the team out there that’s going to help me do that for two games.”

UMass goes into the doubleheader with a 2-0 all-time record against Marist. The teams were scheduled to meet in Amherst last year but the games were cancelled due to poor weather conditions.

Game one is set for 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, with game two following roughly 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.

Jamie Cushman can be reached at [email protected]