Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass softball set for final series versus George Mason

Minutewomen 19-0 in the A-10

Caroline O'Connor

Caroline O'Connor

By Noah Bortle, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts softball team has a chance at a perfect Atlantic 10 record this weekend.

The Minutewomen (31-12, 19-0 A-10) face off against George Mason (22-24, 12-8 A-10) in their final regular season series of the season with two games Saturday and another Sunday.

“One of our goals is to remain unbeaten in the A-10,” said coach Kristi Stefanoni. “So, as long as we keep talking about our goals and reminding each other of how we get there, it puts a lot into perspective and keeps us very focused on the end result, rather than looking further ahead.”

The Patriots appear to have hit their stride, coming in winners of their last six contests and 11 of their last 12 after struggling early in the season, especially out of conference.

“They’ll be tough competition for us,” said Stefanoni, “which should be good for both teams heading into the tournament. Our sole focus right now is three games against George Mason.”

UMass is coming off its most impressive conference sweep of the season over second place and defending A-10 champions Fordham. The sweep clinched the A-10 regular season title for the Minutewomen, but do not expect them to ease their foot off the gas one bit with the chance at a 22-0, undefeated conference season on the line.

Fordham boasts one of the better pitching staffs in the A-10, led by sophomore starter Bekah Ansbro. Ansbro has started 21 of the Patriots’ games, compiling 110 strikeouts in 123.2 innings to go with her 2.94 ERA.

Haellie Gordon makes up the other half of George Mason’s two-headed pitching staff. The freshman has pitched 119 innings so far this season with a respectable 3.59 ERA.

The series is a matchup of strengths as the Minutewomen rank first in the A-10 in most offensive categories, including runs, batting average and on-base percentage. UMass will look to combat the fearsome Patriot pitching with their own stellar offense.

“They have one of the best pitching staffs in the A-10,” said Kaitlyn Stavinoha, “but, we have the best offense in the A-10. If we just keep doing what we’ve been doing, the hits will come.”

George Mason may lack the thump that some other A-10 lineups offer, but what it lacks in power it makes up for in contact, with seven starters batting over .270 on the season.

The middle of the Patriot lineup features Adriana Erickson, a corner infielder leading the team in home runs and slugging percentage while still maintaining a .299 batting average.

“I think going out from the start and really trying to attack them first inning,” said senior Meg Colleran, “and trying to have a good offensive inning ourselves usually tends to put teams back on their heels.”

This weekend’s series marks the final time that seniors Colleran and Jena Cozza will take to Sortino Field. The two have been the at the heart of UMass’ success this season, Colleran heading the pitching staff and Cozza at the plate.

“I’ve been trying to not think about it,” said Colleran, “because if I do, I’m going to be really sad. I love this place and I think it gives us even more incentive to win.”

The first of Saturday’s two games is set for a 12 p.m. first pitch, while Sunday’s game will also begin at noon.

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

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