UMass softball cruises past Boston College on the road

Minutewomen top regional rivals

Collegian+File+Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Amin Touri, Sports Editor

In the lead-up to the Massachusetts softball team’s trip to Boston College this week, coach Kristi Stefanoni talked about the difficulties of getting her lineup to “all click at once.”

Wednesday was more like it.

Eight different Minutewomen registered hits as the production came from all over the lineup in an 8-3 win over BC on the road, as UMass (13-13) took control over its regional rivals in the fourth inning and never looked back.

“I think it’s always great to beat Boston College, and it’s been a long time coming for us to do that, and today I thought was a really great win for the program,” Stefanoni said. “It was a great team win, we had a lot of people step up and do some big things, both offensively and defensively, and it results in a good win for us.”

Sophomore ace Kiara Oliver threw seven strong innings on Wednesday, allowing six hits but only one earned run, setting nine Eagles (10-17) down on strikes to log her fifth win of the season.

Oliver had to battle through some early defensive issues, as BC’s first run of the game came on a throwing error from Hannah Bunker with two outs in the bottom of the first.

“I thought we started out a little slow, a little sloppy on defense” Stefanoni said. “Kiara started out pretty strong, she did a phenomenal job the entire game, we just started out a bit slow and sloppy on defense, and thankfully with her being able to keep us in the game, it didn’t end up hurting us too much.”

A role reversal saw Bunker become the beneficiary of a throwing error herself in the top of the third, reaching base on a bad throw from BC shortstop Carly Severini to bring home Jackey Kelley and tie things up at one-all.

Eagles pitcher Susannah Anderson kept herself out of trouble for the most part until the fourth, when she walked a patient Kaitlyn Stavinoha on a full count to load up the bases. Hesitant to pitch to a dangerous Kaycee Carbone, Anderson walked her on four pitches to bring in a run to tie the game at 2-2 and keep the bases loaded for Melissa Garcia, who went opposite field to double home Kelley and Stavinoha and give UMass a 4-2 lead.

Another Bunker fielding error led to another unearned BC run to bring the Eagles back within one, but that’s as close as they’d get, as Oliver only allowed one baserunner for the rest of her outing.

It was still 4-3 when Stavinoha stepped to the plate with one on and one out in the sixth, and the senior shortstop kept her hot streak going, ripping a triple into the gap to make the lead 5-3, before Carbone singled up the middle to bring Stavinoha home and make it 6-3.

Stavinoha added another RBI in the seventh as the Minutewomen tacked on two more in the final frame, and Oliver set the last three Eagles down in order to seal an 8-3 win.

Stavinoha, Carbone and Garcia, who have anchored UMass’ run-production this season, continued that trend on Thursday — each of the three seniors pitched in with two RBIs on Wednesday.

“It was really good, they were really good, hard hits too,” Stefanoni said. “There was nothing fluffy about it, so it was good to see them hit the ball hard and come through in the spots in the lineup that they’re supposed to come through in.”

Stefanoni had also spoken about the struggles UMass had adjusting to a new pitcher against St. Bonaventure over the weekend, and again her concerns were quelled. The Minutewomen shelled BC’s CC Cook when she relieved Anderson, tagging her for four runs in the sixth and seventh innings.

“We worked on it at practice a little bit, just kind of going from [assistant coach] Chelsea [Plimpton] throwing a certain speed and then her changing up a bit, that was one of our goals, to be able to adjust quicker when they bring another pitcher in,” said Stefanoni. “They’re bringing in pitchers in situations where we have runners in scoring position, and last weekend we weren’t really able to execute with that. This time we were, and we were able to give ourselves a nice cushion going into the seventh.”

The win brings UMass back to .500 on the year. The Eagles will come to Amherst for a rematch on April 17, but first the Minutewomen turn their attention to Saint Louis, as they hit the road again this weekend to continue Atlantic 10 play.

UMass is slated for three games this weekend, a Saturday doubleheader and a Sunday finale, in Saint Louis, Missouri.

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