Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass softball shutout in series finale against Saint Joseph’s

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(Christina Moschetto/ Daily Collegian)

(Christina Moschetto/ Daily Collegian)

After splitting Saturday’s doubleheader against Saint Joseph’s, the Massachusetts softball team was shut out 3-0 in the rubber game of the series Sunday afternoon at Sortino Field.

The Hawks (14-15-1, 3-5-1 Atlantic 10) struck in the first inning and never looked back when shortstop Sarah Yoos singled off of UMass (10-20, 4-4 A-10) starter Meg Colleran to give St. Joe’s a 1-0 lead. Colleran started both games for the Minutewomen Saturday, pitching a total of 12 innings.

In the third the Hawks scored again when Colleran walked Kaylyn Zierke with the bases loaded to make it 2-0. Later in the inning, Amanda Kulp tagged up on a Brandi Harkness fly out to center to add another run.

UMass got off to a slow offensive start, with its first hit on a ground ball single into left field by freshman centerfielder Erin Stacevicz in the fourth inning. The Minutewomen could not use the leadoff spark, as they failed to convert with a runner on base. In total, they left five runners LOB.

When asked what she would attribute the team’s late offensive start to, UMass coach Kristi Stefanoni said “the main theme of the game was we were pressing too much.”

Kaycee Carbone and pinch hitter Melissa Garcia’s singles in the fifth showed life for the the Minutewomen, but yet again they were stranded on base.

Jena Cozza’s sixth inning double was the only extra base hit in the contest for UMass. However, yet again, the depth of the lineup could not come through late in the game to drive her home.

Cozza missed almost the entirety of last season due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, but has transitioned well to her starting role on the team this year, as she showed today coming through as the Minutewomen’s biggest offensive power.

“After the first few tournaments, I cut loose,” Cozza said in response to her added playing time and contribution to the team this season.

While UMass managed to tack on an extra hit in the seventh, its effort would go unrewarded, as St. Joe’s starter Ashley Ventura pitched a complete-game shutout finishing with eight strikeouts while walking none.

“I don’t think (Saturday’s doubleheader) affected our energy at all,” Stefanoni said.

Meanwhile, UMass’ defense showed clear improvements from the day before. The Minutewomen committed four errors in the second game of the series, and did not commit any in Sunday’s series finale. In addition, Stacevicz made a spectacular running catch in center field to keep UMass in the game.

“It’s just them relaxing. This is our home field, we know how the ball bounces better than anybody,” Stefanoni said when asked about the drastic defensive improvement in the third game of the series.

In addition to her defense’s backup, Colleran threw a complete game for the Minutewomen, allowing just two earned runs on five hits. Colleran also walked three batters and struck out five in the loss.

UMass will look to put its offensive struggles behind as they take on Rhode Island in a doubleheader Tuesday at home.

Leo Stern can be reached at [email protected]

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