UMass softball sweeps BU doubleheader

By Amin Touri

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts softball team took advantage of its first opportunity to play at home on Thursday, taking both ends of a doubleheader against Boston University.

The Minutewomen (10-14) opened the afternoon with a 6-4 victory, before earning a 3-1 win to sweep the Terriers (8-20, 0-3 Patriot League) at Sortino Field.

“For the first time being home, I usually expect a lot of nervousness,” UMass coach Kristi Stefanoni said. “It’s a very young team, a majority of the people that were out there were freshmen and sophomores. They did not look nervous at all. They did really well. I think we could’ve played a little better defense here and there, been better at jumping on pitches in the second game, little things we could fix here and there, but that’s two solid wins against a regional opponent that I’m really happy with.”

Freshman Candace Denis got the start in game one, throwing six innings and allowing just two earned runs on five hits. Sophomore first baseman Melissa Garcia led the way offensively, going 2-3 with two runs batted in.

The Minutewomen capitalized heavily on BU mistakes in the opening game, scoring five unearned runs as a result of four Terrier errors to pick up a 6-4 win.

Junior Meg Colleran got the ball to start game two, and produced one of her finest outings of the season. Despite only striking out one batter, Colleran threw all seven innings and gave up just one run and five hits, shutting down the BU bats and moving to 4-8 on the season.

After five scoreless innings on both sides, UMass finally broke the game open in the top of the sixth, pushing three runs across to take a 3-0 lead. The Terriers managed a run of their own in the bottom of the frame, but Colleran pitched her way out of back-to-back jams in the sixth and seventh innings to seal a 3-1 win.

Though Colleran found herself in some trouble in the last two innings, Stefanoni kept faith in her starter, who escaped from both jams relatively unscathed.

“Megan has got to work through finishing games for us,” Stefanoni said, “and that’s how we’re going to be successful in conference. If she can do that kind of stuff and work her way out of jams, that helps build her confidence and helps build the team’s confidence, so it’s good for her to be in situations like that, and be able to get tough outs for us and keep pitching her game.”

Though playing in Amherst, the Minutewomen were technically the away team on Thursday, as a doubleheader originally scheduled to be played in Boston was shifted to UMass due to the field conditions at BU. Though they were the visitors in the boxscore, the Minutewomen were right at home.

“It was amazing,” Stefanoni said. “I honestly don’t know when we’re going to see dirt at this place again, we’re traveling to GW [Friday] instead of having a home game this weekend. It’s going to be 60 degrees and sunny, so way better than here with snow on the ground, but it was amazing. Our field crew did a great job of getting it ready in order for us to be able to play to day, to move the game from Boston. This was, one, a miracle, but it was really good for us to be on our home field.”

After the scheduled Atlantic 10 opener against St. Bonaventure last weekend was canceled due to weather, UMass will finally open A-10 play against George Washington this weekend, and the victories against BU give the Minutewomen some great momentum as they open conference play.

“Obviously with two wins under our belt going in, it’s good momentum for us.” Stefanoni said. “That’s what we’re looking for, trying to get through the weekend with some good wins under our belt, playing some good softball, and remembering [those wins] instead of a loss.”

UMass plays three games at GW this weekend — two on Saturday and one on Sunday — before hosting Fairleigh Dickinson at Sortino Field on Wednesday.

Amin Touri can be reached at [email protected]