Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass softball steamrolls GW, sweeps weekend series

Minutewomen win 15-0 Saturday

Caroline O'Connor

Caroline O'Connor

By Amin Touri, Assistant Sports Editor

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Different weekend, same result.

The Massachusetts softball team swept its second consecutive series over the weekend, taking all three games against George Washington to open conference play at a perfect 6-0.

The Minutewomen continued their offensive dominance, hanging 30 runs on the Colonials over three games to take sole possession of first place in the Atlantic 10.

“We did very well over the weekend,” said UMass coach Kristi Stefanoni. “They have bought in to the plan that we’ve established for each weekend, they executed it perfectly, and I think clearly the results showed. I was very happy with them this weekend, especially with how we turned ourselves around after day one.”

UMass (17-10, 6-0 A-10) finished the weekend on a high note, needing only five innings to send GW packing in a 15-0 blowout in Saturday’s second game. Cruising into the fifth frame with a 7-0 lead, the Minutewomen decided to pour it on, batting around and plating eight runs in the inning to cut the afternoon short with a run-rule win.

Junior Melissa Garcia got things started with an RBI single to make it 8-0, before freshman Amy Smith poked one into center with the bases loaded to score another. The bases remained loaded for Hannah Bunker, who singled down the left field line to score two more.

I think we had bases loaded twice, and they were just on a roll,” Stefanoni said. “They did a great job of just hitting singles at first, which was great because that’s all we needed. I think we scored the majority of those runs with one or two outs, which is great to see. That means they’re having really good quality at-bats, and they’re not just going up there and trying to crank the first pitch that they see; they’re still trying to have really good at-bats with the bases loaded up 7-0.”

With runners on first and second, GW pitcher Faith Weber’s first mistake was hitting Jackie Kelley to load the bases for senior Jena Cozza; her second was leaving a pitch over the plate for the conference’s best hitter to hammer into center field for a grand slam, a towering shot to clear the bases and complete the 15-0 blowout.

“Sometimes you could see an offense just get away with themselves and just swing because it’s 7-0, whatever,” Stefanoni said. “But they stuck to their plan, hit some singles, scored some runs and Jena got up and hit the building behind center field.”

The first game of Saturday’s doubleheader wasn’t particularly close either, as freshman Kiara Oliver allowed just two runs in six innings, the Minutewomen riding a five-run fourth inning to an 8-2 win.

Hitting at the bottom of the order, Kelley had herself a stellar afternoon, going 3-for-4 with a double, a triple and three RBIs to lead UMass to another comfortable win.

Friday’s opener was the only blip for the Minutewomen, as they needed extra innings to get their first win of the weekend. UMass was shaky in the field, as a trio of errors led to three unearned runs for GW, resulting in a 4-4 tie after seven innings.

It was the first real test of the season for the Minutewomen, but it didn’t take long for them to take care of business, as Cozza led off the eighth with a solo homer to left to quickly break the deadlock. Garcia and Bunker each singled home a run to add some insurance, and Oliver shut the door in the bottom half to close out a 7-4 win.

“I think it started off a little rough,” Stefanoni said. “It was pretty sloppy on both sides, but I think we recovered really, really nicely. They have proven enough to themselves that they can do this, and they can come back when they’re down, I know they’ve proven that to us.

“They have resiliency — a lot of it — all the way from the freshmen to the seniors, and normally you don’t see that a lot in underclassmen. Usually they don’t go through stuff like this, and a lot of them are in the lineup, and it shows what kind of job our captain and our older players have done for them.”

UMass will take a brief detour from conference play to host Albany for a doubleheader on Wednesday, before turning its attention to a home weekend series against Saint Joseph’s.

Amin Touri can be reached at [email protected], and followed on Twitter @Amin_Touri.

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