Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass softball sweeps doubleheader against Saint Joseph’s

Minutewomen tally 10-plus hits in both games

Caroline O'Connor

Caroline O'Connor

By Noah Bortle, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts softball team continued its winning ways on Saturday against conference foe Saint Joseph’s, taking both games of the doubleheader by scores of 8-3 in the first and 4-0 in the second.

In the second game, with UMass (19-10, 8-0 Atlantic 10) hanging on to a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning, Kiara Oliver worked herself into a jam with the bases loaded and only one out. The freshman pitcher then induced a soft ground ball to record the out at home on a quick flip from Oliver before retiring the next St. Joe’s (13-17, 2-6 A-10) batter to escape the inning unscathed.

“Defense has been something that we have harping on because it has been something that has been kind of the problem,” said senior Jena Cozza, “especially since that’s been getting us into trouble and giving up the runs when the pitchers are doing great. We’ve been feeling good and to have a day like today, it’s a confidence builder for us.”

Oliver also managed to strand the bases loaded in the fifth inning and prevent baserunners on second and third in the top of the sixth from coming home. Oliver’s pitching was crucial to keeping St. Joe’s off the board despite surrendering six hits and four walks.

The Minutewomen had yet another successful game at the dish, notching 10 hits for their four runs.

Three hits each from Cozza and Melissa Garcia were the difference makers, with Garcia’s first career home run in the fifth inning extending UMass’ lead to four over the visiting Hawks.

Garcia’s two RBIs were more than enough for the Minutewomen as junior Quinn Breidenbach came into the game in the seventh inning to close the game out. After the first two St. Joe’s batters were able to reach on a walk and a hit, Breidenbach bared down to close the door on St. Joes and clinch a 4-0 victory for the Minutewomen.

“I think that’s key for Quinn to be able to come in like that and shut an offense down after not having seen anybody through six and a half innings” said coach Kristi Stefanoni, “it’s good for our pitching staff, I think it is good for all three of [our pitchers] to share the load like this.”

UMass’ offense breaks out for eight runs in game one

In the second inning of game one, Cozza came to the plate with a one-run lead and two runners on base for her. St. Joe’s pitcher Ashley Ventura, looking to walk her, left a pitch out over the plate and Cozza smacked it back up the middle, scoring two runs to make it a 3-0 game.

UMass pitcher Meg Colleran struggled to find the strike zone to start the game, loading the bases, but St. Joe’s was unable to capitalize, failing to score after Sarah Ostaszewski hit a line drive right to Cozza who stepped on third for the double play.

The entire Minutewomen lineup had success on Saturday against St. Joe’s pitching staff, with eight and nine hitters Amy Smith and Jackie Kelley getting hits and each scoring a run.

“The bottom of the lineup has really done a lot of good things which has only made it easier for the top of the lineup,” said Stefanoni, “it has let everybody kind of sit back a little bit and relax.”

Melissa Garcia continued her hot play, going three for three in the game and driving in three runs out of the four-hole for the Minutewomen.

“I feel really relaxed up there,” said Garcia, “I don’t really think about anything, my main goal is just to get on base.”

After giving up three earned runs on four hits on the afternoon, Colleran turned the ball over to Quinn Breidenbach with an 8-3 lead heading into the top of the seventh inning.

Breidenback kept up what has been a successful A-10 campaign so far, retiring all three batters that she faced in the frame.

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

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