Hot starts give UMass doubleheader sweep over URI Wednesday afternoon

By Mollie Walker

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

After being shut out 3-0 by Saint Joseph’s just three days prior, the Massachusetts softball team aimed to put numbers on the board to prove its worth offensively.

And with 10 runs in a two-game sweep of Rhode Island, UMass (12-20, 6-4 Atlantic 10) accomplished that.

The Minutewomen defeated the Rams in their second doubleheader sweep of the season Wednesday afternoon at Sortino Field, topping the Rams (11-18, 2-7 A-10) 3-0 in the back end.

It was déjà vu for UMass after right fielder Tara Klee started off game two with a first-inning home run to give them a 2-0 lead. Jena Cozza who the Minutewomen off to a hot start in game one with a first-inning home run of her own to start the afternoon.

“It feels really good, that was our big thing for the one day we had practice,” UMass coach Kristi Stefanoni said about the quick offense start. “We did base running and hitting for probably a good two hours, we just were going to try to score runs, as many runs as we possibly could and it paid off.”

“When everyone’s feeling good and it’s a team win, like it was today, then it just brings energy and makes us play well and feel good,” Cozza said.

Taylor Carbone pitched a complete-game shutout in game two, allowing just four hits while striking out a pair and walking one. It was her second win of the season.

The Minutewomen’s only other run came in the sixth inning came on a sacrifice fly to right field by Kaycee Carbone that scored Dana Barclay, who pinch ran for Taylor Carbone.

Minutewomen bats come alive in game one

UMass got off to a hot start in game one off the bat of Cozza en route to a 7-2 win over the Rams.

Olivia Godin (sacrifice fly) and freshman Kaitlyn Stavinoha (single) drove home Klee and Taylor Carbone in the third to double the Minutewomen’s lead to 4-0.

“The past couple of games we’ve had a problem getting started so to start off the game the way we did, I think it gave the pitchers a big boost and it just brought everyone’s energy up,” Cozza said.

Sophomore pitcher Meg Colleran pitched six innings, earning her 10th win of the season allowing two runs (one earned), while striking out two and walking a single batter. Taylor Carbone came in to pitch the seventh inning without allowing a run.

The Minutewomen proved their defensive focus by only allowing a combined two runs on the day, with only a pair of errors. Stavinoha, UMass’ second baseman, got in front of almost every ball grounded her way, including a diving stop that she flipped up to Cozza covering second to prevent the advanced runner in the third inning.

Cozza had her own success at shortstop, catching every line drive hit her way. She also managed to convert a double-play in the bottom of the fifth, catching URI’s Paige Julich, who ran too far off of first after a line drive.

Cozza also performed on the offensive side, aside from her homerun (her third of the season), she also converted a double in the first game and a single in the second game.

UMass drew 11 combined walks off Rams’ pitchers Becca Rogers and Julia Waraksy. Rogers lasted 5.2 innings allowing six earned runs and nine walks on 135 pitches.

Erin Stacevicz, who entered Wednesday’s game with a team-leading .340 batting average, bombed a major triple in the bottom of the fifth to bring in senior Whitney Cooper, who was previously walked and then stole second base for her first steal of the season.

In preparation for their next doubleheader Saturday against St. Bonaventure, Stefanoni plans to continue to work with the Minutewomen on their offensive assets.

“We need to work on getting ahead earlier,” Stefanoni said. “But I think the biggest pro is that we’re taking the momentum of two wins into this weekend.”

Mollie Walker can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter at @MWalker2019.