Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass softball beats Saint Joseph’s 8-4 on Sunday, completes weekend sweep

Carbone knocks in four runs Sunday
(Collegian file photo)

The brooms were out and about at Sortino Field on Sunday, as the Massachusetts softball team laid down eight runs to beat Saint Joseph’s and complete the three-game sweep in an 8-4 win.

“It was a sweep, it was a win and I’ll take a win any way I can get it,” said UMass coach Kristi Stefanoni. “I think that we were a little in and out today.”

UMass (20-10, 9-0 A-10) earned their winning and insurance runs in what would turn out to be a dramatic fourth inning.

Erin Stacevicz plated a run with a fielder’s choice and an error to make it 5-1 UMass at that point. Junior Kaycee Carbone would add to the run parade with a single to left field, scoring a run to make it 6-1, earning her team-high fourth RBI of the day. A two-run double from catcher Madison Gimpl would extend the lead to seven runs for the Minutewomen.

“It’s awesome when everyone’s producing,” Carbone said. “It takes the pressure off any single player. It just makes it easier to have fun and stay loose and stuff.”

The dramatic part of the inning, and possibly the inspiration for the four-run outburst, came earlier in the frame when slugger Jena Cozza took a 3-2 pitch off the inside of her right knee — a place in which she’s had a lot of trouble with in the past. Cozza has had surgeries on both of her knees and another hit-by-pitch certainly didn’t help.

Cozza was down for a few moments before being helped to her feet by a trainer and Stefanoni. The tensions were high because of the outcry shared by the UMass softball squad and the fans in the stands.

“We get so mad when Jena gets hit,” stated Carbone. “It’s frustrating because she’s such a good player but if you’re going to put her on base, intentionally walk her. You don’t have to hit her. She has two bad knees already. There’s no point in injuring her more. It’s just disrespectful and poor sportsmanship.

Stefanoni made sure that she talked to the umpires right after Cozza got hit for the fourth time in the series.

“Of course I said something to the umpires, 100 percent,” Stefanoni said. “I will go down with this group and I just wanted him to know that I thought it was a little odd that she was the only kid getting hit every time she was up to the plate.”

In the top half of the sixth inning, St. Joe’s applied the biggest threat to UMass’ lead all game by loading the bases after already having scored three runs since the Minutewomen’s big fourth inning.

Stefanoni called a huddle at the circle with the bases loaded, one out, an 8-4 lead and the number two and three hitters due up next for St. Joe’s. Her message was clear-cut.

“She just basically said ‘lock it in and get it done,’” Carbone said.

And that’s exactly what pitcher Meg Colleran did. She proceeded to strike out St. Joe’s right fielder Kirstin Cox with two outs and then induced shortstop Molly Kapala into a ground ball right back to her for the third out.

“I just kind of felt a different energy from Meg when I left the circle,” Stefanoni said. “I was like ‘okay, she’s got this. She’s going to be fine.’ I can’t explain how I feel when I leave a huddle or talk to them but I knew she was going to be fine.”

Despite UMass scoring eight runs on the day, St. Joe’s actually struck first with a bloop single to right field from senior Lauren Reilly off of UMass starter Kiara Oliver.

Oliver would settle in though, going five innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits and striking out four.

UMass would respond in the bottom half of the first with a two-run double off the bat of Carbone. Stacevicz’s bases-loaded walk in the second would plate UMass’ third run and Carbone’s sacrifice fly would bring their fourth around.

Overall, when asked about what was working with this team’s offense, Stefanoni was direct.

“I don’t know. I don’t think it’s one particular thing,” she said. “I just think that when this group is locked in, they’re doing really well.”

UMass looks to keep its strong season rolling this Tuesday in Chestnut Hill against Boston College.

Evan Marinofsky can be reached at [email protected], and followed on Twitter @emarinofsky.s

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