Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass softball takes two of three in first home series of year

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(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

As Dorothy told everyone in “The Wizard of Oz,” there’s no place like home.

The Massachusetts softball team echoed those sentiments after winning two of three games against George Washington this weekend in the team’s first home series of the season.

“It’s just a different comfort level when you’re here, I can’t really explain it,” UMass coach Kristi Stefanoni said. “It’s just very homey and very comfortable, you know your surroundings. I love playing here. This is the best place to play, I think, in the country.”

Senior pitcher Caroline Raymond, who earned the win Saturday, agreed with her coach about the positivity that comes with playing in Amherst.

“It feels so much better,” Raymond said. “You don’t have to drive six hours or fly somewhere and stay in a hotel. You get to sleep in your own bed, walk onto your field and playing on Sortino Field just feels better than playing anywhere else.”

Raymond’s increased comfort was on full display Saturday as she delivered her best pitching performance of the season in a 4-0 victory. She threw a complete game shutout while allowing just two hits and three walks and matched her season-high in strikeouts (five).

Sophomore Tara Klee’s two-run triple in the bottom of the first inning proved to be the only scoring the Minutewomen(8-16, 3-6 Atlantic 10) needed to take the rubber game. Freshman Gianna Hathaway and senior Quianna Diaz-Patterson each tacked on solo home runs to add to UMass’ attack.

Saturday’s weather was far from ideal for softball, as morning rain and wind resulted in a two-hour delay that brought the start time to 2 p.m. The players had to battle 45-degree temperatures and 18 to 30 mile-per-hour wind gusts.

UMass splits doubleheader

The Minutewomen took the first game of Friday’s doubleheader, 3-2, before falling to the Colonials 9-0 in five innings in the later matchup.

UMass got out to an early lead in game one courtesy of a two-run home run from senior Bridget Lemire in the bottom of the first. But George Washington added a run in the fourth and fifth to tie the game.

The Minutewomen then turned to small ball to break the tie. A single from Diaz-Patterson in the fifth was followed by a sacrifice bunt, ground out to shortstop to move the runner to third and a wild pitch that provided the winning run.

Raymond started in the victory and improved her record to 6-9 by the end of the weekend.

Although Raymond was forced to work out of a few jams, including stranding the tying run on third base in the top of the seventh, she produced a good stat line: seven hits, three walks, two strikeouts and one earned run over seven innings.

In the second leg of the doubleheader, a disastrous second inning sunk the Minutewomen’s chances of a sweep as the Colonials scored seven runs en route to a 9-0 mercy-rule shortened game.

George Washington had already scored two runs in the second to open a 3-0 lead courtesy of a single and two doubles when the inning was extended by a two-out error by Klee in left field, adding another run.

Two singles and two wild pitches then followed the miscue, plating two more runs and resulting in junior Emma Mendoker replacing starting pitcher Meg Colleran.

Mendoker walked all four batters she faced, allowing two more runs and forcing Colleran to come back in to get the last out.

UMass’ bats were quiet all game, tallying just two singles in the shutout defeat. Although the Minutewomen worked five walks, they were unable to convert the free passes into scoring opportunities.

Jamie Cushman can be reached at [email protected][liveblog]

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