UMass softball takes one of four in Maryland Invitational tournament this past weekend

By Zach Larkin

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)
(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

In the last tune up before the start of Atlantic 10 season, the Massachusetts softball team dropped three of its four games in the Maryland Invitational tournament this past weekend in College Park, Maryland.

“Going into these tournaments, we wanted to get our mistakes out of the way” UMass coach Kristi Stefanoni said. “We are in the process of reevaluating our goals for our individual players and looking ahead to the regular season.”

If nothing else this weekend was a positive step forward for the Minutewomen (6-16) as Meg Colleran has really taken over the role of starting pitcher, starting in all four games.

“(Colleran) has defiantly solidified her spot, she just needs to recognize how good she is,” Stefanoni said of her sophomore hurler.

Rainout proves costly for Minutewomen

The Minutewomen started their game against North Dakota State Saturday and led 2-1 after three innings before the game was suspended due to rain. The game would pick back up on Sunday and a three-run top of the fourth for the Bison gave them a 4-2 win over UMass.

“That was really frustrating,” Stefanoni said when asked about the suspension. “(We’re) not to make excuses but the game was not handled well.”

The Minutewomen runs came in the first inning when freshman Erin Stacevicz and redshirt sophomore Jena Cozza would both pick up runs batted in on a pair of base hits.

NDSU picked up three runs to start the day on Sunday and did not look back after an RBI single by Jackie Stifter and a pinch-hit two-run double by Bre Beatty. Colleran finished with seven strikeouts on the day, while walking a pair and had two wild pitches.

Small-ball potential 

The Minutewomen fell to Binghamton 4-2 in the third game of the tournament Saturday. UMass scored both of its runs in the third inning to jump out to a 2-1 lead by playing small ball as Stacevicz got things rolling with a bunt single, followed by a sacrifice bunt by senior Taylor Carbone.

Both Stacevicz and Carbone scored via errors as the two runs that Bearcat (9-9) starter Allison Pritchard allowed were unearned. Pritchard pitched the first 3.1 innings before Makenzie Goluba came on in the fourth to get out of the jam. Goluba went on to pitch 3.2 innings in relief, earning the win.

Binghamton tied the game at 2 in the bottom half of the third inning before going on to score a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth to give the Bearcats the win.

Colleran got the start once again for UMass pitching the first four innings allowing one earned run.

Late comeback lifts UMass past Maryland

In the second game of a doubleheader on Friday, the Minutewomen picked up their only win of the weekend beating the host Terrapins 5-4. Heading into the final inning down trailing by two, UMass rallied as Stacevicz reached on an infield single, followed by Cozza reaching on an error before Kaitlyn Stavinoha smacked a single to left scoring both runners.

Carbone drove home Stavinoha with a sac fly the following batter to give the Minutewomen the lead.

Colleran once again had the ball for the Minutewomen, pitching seven strong innings, allowing just four hits and adding four strikeouts.

Minutemen drop opening game

In the first game of the tournament Friday, UMass fell to Ball State 2-0 only totaling four hits. Colleran had a no hitter going into the sixth inning when Ball State had finally strung together a series of hits.

The Cardinals (14-14) scored their first run in the sixth when Madison Lee singled to left field and again in the seventh when India Steward scored on a fielder’s choice from Elise Sandberg.

The Minutewomen’s best chance came in the fifth inning when senior Whitney Cooper and Stacevicz strung a pair of hits together, but both were left on base.

Looking ahead to the regular season opener on March 25 against Fordham, Stefanoni quoted New England Patriots coach Bill Belicheck to find inspiration.

“Our team is starting to realize that everyone just needs to do their job out here and we will be fine,” Stefanoni said.

Zach Larkin can be reached at [email protected].