UMass softball set for doubleheader against Boston College

By Adam Aucoin

Quianna Diaz-Patterson tags her George Washington opponent at second base. (Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)
Quianna Diaz-Patterson tags her George Washington opponent at second base. (Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

Just one week ago, the Massachusetts softball team was riding high in the midst of its most successful stretch of the season, building a four-game winning streak.

This past week, however, was not as successful. UMass (14-23, 8-11 Atlantic 10) dropped all three games it played, including a pair to first-place Dayton Sunday.

The Minutewomen now look to get back on track Tuesday afternoon with a doubleheader at home against nonconference opponent Boston College.

The Eagles (22-21, 4-14 Atlantic Coast Conference) play in one of the most competitive leagues in Division I softball, which boasts two teams in the USA Today top 25 poll.

But UMass coach Kristi Stefanoni said she welcomes the challenge of playing a big-conference team.

“It is always great to be able to take on a team from a larger conference like the ACC,” Stefanoni said. “We know that they see the best competition day in (and) day out, so if we want to win, we will need to make sure we compete hard on Tuesday.”

After the Minutewomen scored six runs in their three-game losing streak, Stefanoni stressed the importance of early offensive success.

“We need to make sure we get runs early and often,” she said. “That was a big problem for us this weekend. We got into situations where we couldn’t take advantage early and it cost us late in the game.”

UMass will look to senior shortstop Quianna Diaz-Patterson for answers offensively. The team’s leading hitter was held to 2-for-7 over the weekend.

Diaz-Patterson has been the key cog to the Minutewomen’s offensive success all season long. The Amherst native is batting .519, which is good for third in Division I softball, and has hit nine home runs this season.

Also looked upon to contribute offensively will be senior first baseman Bridget Lemire, who leads the team with 10 home runs.

“Those girls are really the catalysts to our lineup,” Stefanoni said. “When they are on, the rest of the team is more confident at the plate and that is always a great thing for the offense.”

Going up against a formidable Eagles pitching staff, UMass’ offense, which hasn’t proven consistent, will be put to the test.

The Boston College staff is led by freshman Allyson Frei, who has a 14-12 record and a 3.20 ERA. As a whole, the Eagles have a 3.37 ERA.

“(Frei) gave us a lot of trouble when we saw her last,” Stefanoni said. “We need to lie off of her rise ball. That’s the pitch she tries to get people to chase on, so it will be important to not bite on it.”

At the plate, Boston College has three players batting over .300 this season including freshman outfielder Annie Murphy, who leads the team at .313. The biggest power threat in the lineup is sophomore Tatiana Cortez, who has six home runs.

With the regular season now in its final week, Stefanoni said she is confident UMass can finish strong and clinch a spot in the A-10 conference tournament.

“I believe in what this team stands for,” she said. “These girls play the game the right way and they know what’s at stake this last week. If we go into these games and do what we need to do, I think we’ll be fine.”

First pitch for game one Tuesday is at 2 p.m. with the second scheduled to follow at 4 p.m.

Adam Aucoin can be reached at [email protected]