UMass softball squeaks past Boston College 2-1 Wednesday afternoon

By Liam Flaherty

Jong Man Kim/Collegian

The Massachusetts softball team managed to leave Shea Field with a much-needed win Wednesday, topping Boston College 2-1 in a non-conference contest.

Similar to their recent contests, production on offense for the Minutewomen (20-19, 8-3 Atlantic 10) was hard to come by.

After taking two important conference games from Fordham to start a three-game series last weekend, UMass dropped the final matchup, 7-4.

Three days later, looking to bounce back, the Minutewomen fell flat once again, losing to Connecticut 7-1.

In both games, UMass couldn’t string much together on offense, with just a handful of singles and walks scattered over the stat sheet.

Facing the Eagles (24-18, 8-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) on Wednesday though, UMass was able to go outside of the box and give just enough on offense to get a highly-coveted check in the win column.

Minutewomen coach Kristi Stefanoni was pleased with the team’s showing on Wednesday and saw the win as a good building block for the team moving forward.

“I was really happy with the way we played softball today,” Stefanoni said. “A couple bumpy innings defensively, but we made up for it with sustaining great energy from the mound and the plate.”

Although it may not have been much, UMass did everything it needed to do on offense in the top half of the fifth inning.

Freshman Madison Gimpl led off, starting with a four-pitch walk for the Minutewomen, who would then play some small ball in order to get the team’s first run on the scoreboard.

According to Stefanoni, Gimpl’s walk “was huge for [the team].”

“In previous innings we were going up almost too aggressively and not letting their pitcher throw a lot, but then [Gimpl] took four straight balls,” Stefanoni said.

With Gimpl on first, Kate Dennis laid down a sacrifice bunt, followed by a Candace Denis single to move Gimpl to third.

Sophomore Erin Stacevicz then hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Gimpl to give UMass the lead.

Leading 1-0, sophomore Kaitlyn Stavinoha stepped to the plate, scoring Denis from first on a double and giving the Minutewomen, with Meg Colleran in the circle, the only insurance that they would need.

Stefanoni felt the team played good, fundamental softball in the fifth, and praised the play of Stavinoha, who continues to perform well in clutch situations.

In the circle, Colleran threw a complete-game gem for UMass, allowing only one run on five hits, while striking out seven.

“[Colleran] was in a groove, you could feel it from her [first inning],” Stefanoni said.

Colleran’s biggest scare came in the bottom of the sixth, with her team leading by just one run.

After back-to-back errors at shortstop and second base to start the inning, the Eagles loaded the bases with just one out.

But as a veteran A-10 pitcher, Colleran took control of the shaky situation and quickly got out of the jam by forcing two infield groundouts.

“Our pitching coach said that was the best game she’s thrown all year, and we all agreed with her,” Stefanoni said.

The Minutewomen will be back in Amherst this week for practice before traveling to Philadelphia for a weekend showdown of three games with Saint Joseph’s.

Liam Flaherty can be contacted by email at [email protected] and on Twitter @_LiamFlaherty.