Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass softball beat Saint Louis twice Saturday

Minutewomen remain perfect in the A-10

Caroline O'Connor

Caroline O'Connor

By Noah Bortle, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts softball team kept its perfect conference record intact on Saturday against Saint Louis with 10-0 and 4-0 victories.

The Minutewomen (22-11, 11-0 Atlantic 10) found themselves locked in a scoreless tie after four and a half innings in Saturday’s second game. After Madison Gimpl and Amy Smith were retired by the Billikens (21-10, 7-5 A-10) Kaitlyn Stavinoha pulled a home run over the right field wall to give UMass a late 1-0 lead.

“That was my first home run here,” said Stavinoha, “it felt really good.”

The Minutewomen weren’t finished in the fifth as a Hannah Bunker walk and a Riley Gregoire single put two runners on with two out.

“I thought that I did well,” said Gregoire of her key hit, “it was nice knowing that my teammates had my back out there.”

With two runners on base, Jena Cozza stepped into the box and proceeded to take an outside pitch opposite field that had just enough to clear the wall in right. The blast gave the Minutewomen a four-run cushion heading into the final two frames.

Cozza’s home run proved to be mere insurance for UMass, which rode the arm of freshman Kiara Oliver to a shutout win.

On two occasions Oliver allowed the first two runners of the inning to reach base before honing in and stranding the runners on base. The shutout was Oliver’s second complete game shutout of the season.

Oliver also successfully stranded two runners in the top of the seventh inning to keep both her shutout and the Minutewomen lead intact.

“I love her fire on the mound,” said coach Kristi Stefanoni. “She is one of the most competitive pitchers that I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach, and I think that is what helps her be able to get through some of these tough innings.”

Junior Melissa Garcia remained hot at the dish, going 3-for-3 with three singles. Her contributions went further than just at the plate, as she also was key in the field. Her glove was especially key in the fourth inning, as she made two snags on line drives to keep baserunners from advancing.

Though the Minutewomen upped their win total to 11 in the A-10 without a loss, they were not particularly pleased with the offensive output in Saturday’s second game.

“We weren’t baserunning very well, we weren’t patient enough at the plate, we weren’t making the pitcher work and were just swinging at some bad pitches,” said Cozza.

UMass offense comes alive to the tune of 10 runs

Game one of Saturday’s doubleheader was seemingly over before it had started.

Already up 1-0 in the second inning, UMass tacked on four more runs to their lead courtesy of an RBI single by Riley Gregoire followed by an error by Billiken second basemen Mackenzie Lawson, which allowed for three more runs to come home.

The third inning was more of the same for the Minutewomen, chasing St. Louis starting pitcher Maddie Baalman after only 2.1 innings. The five-run third inning blew the game wide open, giving UMass a 10-0 lead.

“I love two wins in the conference,” said Stefanoni. “I think the pitching staff trusts the offense this year and the offense trusts the pitching staff, and I think that makes it a little easier.”

Oliver was not the only dominant Minutewomen pitcher on Saturday — Meg Colleran pitched four shutout innings of her own before handing the ball over to Quinn Breidenbach to close out the game after five innings by run-rule.

“I think our pitching staff once again did great,” Stefanoni said, “all three worked together again,”

“I think that our pitching staff is the best in our conference,” said Riley Gregoire, “and I would hands down say that again.”

Melissa Garcia and Riley Gregoire were the offensive stars in game one, going a combined 3-for-6 and driving in four of UMass’ 10 runs.

Jena Cozza continued her dominance of A-10 pitchers, scoring three of the UMass runs while raising her already tremendous batting average with two hits to go along with a walk.

“I thought [the wins] were really great,” said Stefanoni, “two wins are two wins.”

UMass will take on Saint Louis again Sunday at 12 p.m at Sortino Field, hoping to close out the series with a sweep.

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

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