UMass softball splits 16th annual Georgia Classic preseason tournament

The Minutewomen defeated Belmont and Bryant over the weekend

Collegian+File+Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Dan McGee, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts softball team split its second preseason tournament of the season, going 2-2 in the 16th annual Georgia Softball Classic.

“I was really happy with how our team came together this weekend,” said coach Kristi Stefanoni. “We clicked. It was really nice to see people from all different grades step in and do something different. It was really great for me to see the pitching staff work well together in games where we were seeing the same team multiple times. A lot of good stuff from us this weekend.”

With their final game being cancelled due to inclement weather, UMass (3-7) finished its weekend with a 4-0 shutout loss to No. 8 Georgia on Saturday.

Kiara Oliver pitched six successful innings against the Bulldogs (12-1), striking out seven while allowing four runs to score on six hits.

“I thought she did an outstanding job,” said Stefanoni. “She looked like a completely different pitcher from the weekend before, and a lot of that is probably attributed to being on dirt for the second weekend.”

The Minutewomen were able to find success earlier on Saturday, defeating Bryant 2-1 behind a complete game effort from Kenadee Rausch.

After allowing an unearned run due to a UMass error in the first inning, Rausch settled in, striking out seven Bulldogs (0-9) and walking only two.

Kaitlyn Stavinoha knocked across Caroline Videtto on an RBI double in the bottom of the fourth to tie up the contest at one. In the sixth, catcher Madison Gimpl brought in Erin Stacevicz from third on a sacrifice fly to left field for her fifth RBI of the weekend, propelling the Minutewomen to the victory.

“[Gimpl] has really picked it up big time,” said Stefanoni. “She’s become more than just a singles hitter for us. She’s gotten stronger. She’s hitting in the middle of our lineup right now, and she’s been able to work some pretty crucial walks for us which helps some other people get up to bat.”

Rausch’s second victory of the season came after struggling in Friday’s 8-0 shutout loss to Georgia, where she allowed four runs on two hits and two walks and was unable to make it out of the first inning.

While she struggled against Georgia on Friday, Stefanoni was proud of Rausch for rebounding from a poor effort to pitch Saturday’s gem against Bryant.

“[Rausch] was able to come back against Bryant and throw a really great complete game for us,” said Stefanoni. “She is really showing a lot of confidence as a freshman, which is really helping her teammates play really well behind her.”

UMass kicked off the tournament with a resounding 7-0 shutout victory over Belmont. Kiara Oliver dominated in the effort, striking out seven Bruins (6-4) through six scoreless innings to earn her first win of the 2019 season.

“Everyone’s kind of getting their feet beneath them and getting some confidence,” said Stefanoni. “I think that this weekend for [Oliver], in the two games that she threw, we saw the [Oliver] we’re used to seeing and hopefully will be seeing for the remainder for the season.”

Oliver’s performance was aided by a four-RBI game from Gimpl, including a two-run double with the bases loaded in the bottom of the second inning. Gimpl contributed two of the Minutewomen’s eight hits in the ball game.

“[Gimpl]’s come up in some really clutch situations – she’s a confident veteran,” said Stefanoni “She’s a junior, so that kind of stuff is expected out of her, but she did a really great job this weekend.”

Quinn Breidenbach also contributed to the victory, striking out two batters in the seventh inning to shut the door on an overall dominant effort by UMass.

The Minutewomen will look to continue their success from this weekend at next weekend’s Purple and Gold Invitational in North Carolina.

Dan McGee can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @DMcGeeUMass.