Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass softball splits doubleheader against Marist in walk-off win

By Jamie Cushman

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(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)


It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t convincing. But for the Massachusetts softball team, it was a win.

The Minutewomen walked off a nearly-dark Sortino Field Thursday night with a 4-3 win after dropping the first game of a doubleheader against Marist 11-1.

“Overall, not a good day,” UMass coach Kristi Stefanoni said. “Not UMass softball, that’s for sure. But I’ll take the win. I’ll take a win any way I can get it quite honestly.”

Tied 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning, UMass scored when Marist misplayed a groundball hit by Taylor Carbone, which plated Mikayla Panko for the game-winning run.

UMass (11-19) jumped out to an early lead in the second game, taking advantage of a Quianna Diaz-Patterson leadoff walk and a passed ball to go up 1-0 in the bottom of the first. Later in the fifth, it was a tie game when sophomore Whitney Cooper knocked a single up the middle to plate two runs, just her second hit of the season.

“It felt amazing,” said Cooper, who is hitting just .074 this season. “It was just all for the team and I’ve been struggling so much that I was just happy to help out the team.”

Her teammates recognized the importance of the hit, not just for the team, but for Cooper herself.

“Whitney definitely came through today,” freshman pitcher Meg Colleran said. “That’s something that I know she’s capable of every time and it’s just really good to see her get that. She deserves it.”

Colleran herself shined for UMass in Thursday’s win. She threw her seventh complete game of the season, allowing just two earned runs off eight hits and striking out four.

“I thought she was phenomenal,” Stefanoni said of her young pitcher. “Her demeanor today was the best yet I’ve seen.”

The Minutewomen’s offensive star of the game also appreciated her teammate’s performance.

“Meg was a beast,” Cooper said. “She did so well and she kept everyone up. I felt competitive and in-the-zone the whole game because of her.”

Colleran was at her best in innings five and seven, working out of two different situations in which runners were on second and third base with only one out.

“For a young player to get out of a situation like that in a tough game, I think shows maturity for her,” Stefanoni said.

The highlight of the game defensively came in the top of the sixth, when sophomore Tara Klee gunned out a runner at home, preserving the UMass lead for the time being.

“That was just ballsy,” Cooper said. “It pumped everyone up, got our adrenaline going, and that is what UMass softball is about.”

Marist drew even in the top of the seventh, setting up a dramatic seventh inning UMass win. It was unclear how much longer the game would be played due to darkness.

Control struggles doom UMass

UMass struggled to put together anything offensively in the first game, tallying just two hits off Marist senior pitcher Melanie White in an 11-1 loss.

The Minutewomen pitchers once again struggled with control, something that has been an issue for the team all season long. Starter Caroline Raymond walked four and gave up five runs in her five innings of work.

Reliever Emma Mendoker really struggled to find the plate, walking six batters, hitting two, and recording just one out. The Red Foxes six-run sixth inning featured just one hit.

The Minutewomen now turn their sights to a three-game series St. Bonaventure. Entering the weekend one game back of the Bonnies in the Atlantic 10 Conference, UMass has an opportunity to improve their conference standing.

“It’s a critical, crucial series,” Stefanoni said. “We have got to come pretty much close to perfect all weekend.”

After winning three of four games this week, the Minutewomen are entering their showdown against St. Bonaventure with confidence.

“They better be ready,” Cooper said. “Because we’re going to come and be ready to compete. With what has happened in the past, I think they’re going to come in here and not know what hit ‘em.”

Jamie Cushman can be reached at [email protected]

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