Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass softball’s Meg Colleran is great, but she won’t tell you so

Colleran is a two-time All-Atlantic 10 selection

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By Noah Bortle, Contributing Writer

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Meg Colleran of the Massachusetts softball team is one of, if not the most dominant pitcher in the Atlantic 10, but you wouldn’t be able to tell speaking with her. Any question about her personal success is quickly deflected to the team and what they have done as a group.

“I just don’t really focus on the personal, I usually focus on the team, the end results. That’s just how I play,” said the senior ace.

The end results have been positive more often than not in Colleran’s time with the Minutewomen. She already has two All-Atlantic 10 honors to her name in three seasons and turned in one of the most heroic postseason pitching performances in UMass history last season, pitching five games in three days on her way to winning the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award.

“I’m going to be completely honest, I don’t pay attention to any of the accolade stuff, I didn’t realize that I even got [All-Atlantic 10] twice. I’m really just focusing on winning A-10s and winning games,” said Colleran. “That’s really my only focus.”

Though Colleran will never be one to admit it, she was a vital piece in the 2017 team’s run to the A-10 championship game. While she pitched incredibly throughout the postseason it was not enough as the Minutewomen lost an extra-inning heartbreaker to Fordham to narrowly miss out on the Atlantic 10 title.

If the Minutewomen are to flip the script this season it will likely be in large part due to the right arm of Meg Colleran. Teammates and coaches wouldn’t want it any other way either.

“Getting that far, getting to the championship, showed her that her hard work does pay off,” pitching coach Chelsea Plimpton said, “that helps her be the leader on the staff. She knows that she was the better pitcher and she probably should have won that game.”

Though Colleran has been able to consistently dominate at every level, (throwing three no-hitters her senior year at North Attleboro High School) she struggled her freshman year in Amherst. She went 3-13 with a less-than-stellar 5.51 earned-run average in 2015.

“When Meg came in, she had a lot of expectations,” UMass coach Kristi Stefanoni said. “She was expected to come in and start right away, and that is a really big job for a freshman. It was difficult for her at first, but she has really grown tremendously since her freshman season.”

Colleran certainly didn’t shy away from the adversity she faced in her first season, bouncing back to the tune of a 2.08 ERA and 137 strikeouts in 239.1 innings of work as a sophomore. She also won 22 games out her 36 starts on the season.

The breakout season was a product of lessons she had learned her freshman year and over the offseason, and adjusting based off that.

“I try to get ahead in counts and just try to get outs as fast as I can,” said Colleran. “I really think that I’ve been able to learn a lot in my four years here.”

“The biggest thing that we have worked on together has been her confidence,” said Plimpton, “She is a perfectionist and expects a lot from herself… getting her to relax in the circle and go out there and attack hitters and trust herself was big.”

Colleran’s on-field results are no accident, pitchers do not simply ride natural talent to the plethora of awards she has received. Instead, her successes are a product of her unmatched work ethic and will to win. Ask any of her coaches, and they will tell you the same thing.

“I think that she is the hardest working pitcher in the conference,” Plimpton said bluntly, “she’s really selfless, she’s coachable, she will give you everything, she’s going to give it her all, she just doesn’t take a day off.”

Stefanoni echoed that sentiment saying, “Megan is an absolute work horse…. Megan always puts herself in a position where, if she had to be the only pitcher this year, she would physically be able to handle it.”

Beyond her work ethic and team first approach, Colleran is also a good teammate and leader for others on the team.

“She leads by example,” said Plimpton, “she does all the right things. Her heart is in the right place, and she thinks about others before herself. She’s someone that the team can go to and ask questions and confide in.”

And the glowing praise does not stop there, with Stefanoni adding, “She’s really turned into a great leader, she’s turned into a great teammate and takes care of her younger teammates. She has just done a really great job.”

For an example of Colleran helping her younger teammates, look no further than her fellow pitcher, freshman Kiara Oliver. Oliver is sporting a 2.47 ERA so far in her young collegiate career but shows promise of things to come.

“[Colleran] has really helped be a leader on this pitching staff,” said Plimpton. “She has helped Kiara come in and shown Kiara what to do and what is expected from this team.”

It’s hard to get Meg Colleran to talk about herself—rather, she answers personal questions with “we” and always makes sure to credit what the team did before crediting herself.

Although Colleran will never say it herself, it is clear from the countless accounts that she has been the key cog in the Minutewomen’s successes in the past few seasons, especially being the driving force for last season’s A-10 title game appearance.

But, if there is one thing to take away about Colleran, it is despite all the awards and accolades, she isn’t done. Not by a long shot.

“We plan on winning A-10’s this year,” Colleran said candidly. “We got so close last year and if there was going to be a year for us to do it, out of my four years here, it is this year. This is the team that I’m most confident playing with.”

Stefanoni echoed this, saying, “Her drive is unbelievable for what she wants to do this season. She set herself up to have success.”

While Colleran points toward an improved offense this year as a reason to be hopeful for an A-10 championship celebration at the end of the year for UMass, it will most likely hinge upon her ability to dominate lineups.

If years prior are any indication, it is a safe bet that Colleran’s dominance will continue, and it will have to for this year’s team to meet their lofty expectations.

“At various points over her career here, she has been the reason for team success,” Stefanoni said. “She is the reason we were able to go as far as we did in the Atlantic 10 tournament a year ago. Megan is a huge part of our team and our success and hopefully moving forward she’ll do that again.”

The Minutewomen were picked to finish second in the A-10, a spot behind conference juggernaut Fordham in the preseason poll. The two teams met in last year’s A-10 championship game and Fordham emerged as the victors.

“There is nothing worse than being that close,” said Colleran, “having two extra-inning games and it coming down to the last outs and losing. [Fordham] has had the title the past five years, I thinks it’s our time to take it back.”

Regardless of how the season unfolds in 2018, whether it be with an A-10 title or not, one thing is clear: Meg Colleran will be dominating opposing lineups, but she certainly will not be taking credit for it.

Noah Bortle can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @noah_bortle.

 

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