UMass softball opens A-10 play with sweep over St. Bonaventure

Minutewomen double up Bonnies in Boston

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UMass softball opens A-10 play with sweep over St. Bonaventure

Graphic by Simon Nathans

Graphic by Simon Nathans

Graphic by Simon Nathans

Graphic by Simon Nathans

By Amin Touri, Collegian Staff

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Working through constant schedule changes and location shifts with the week’s weather leaving Sortino Field unplayable, the Massachusetts softball team didn’t miss a beat over the weekend, sweeping St. Bonaventure on Sunday in Boston to open up Atlantic 10 play.

A three-game set was cut to a Sunday doubleheader as UMass (12-13, 2-0 A-10) hosted the Bonnies (2-14, 0-2 A-10) at Boston University instead of its home field. The Minutewomen cruised to a 5-1 win in the opener, but had to stave off a late scare to take the back end 5-4.

“Two wins to open the conference series I thought was really great,” said UMass coach Kristi Stefanoni. “And having to do it in all different kinds of conditions for us, I mean traveling to BU, only playing two instead of three, so being in kind of unfamiliar territory — even though we just got done playing there a couple days ago — it’s still not your own home field, and you’re starting the most important part of your season.”

Junior Quinn Breidenbach got the ball to start game two and turned in a solid performance, limiting St. Bonaventure to two runs in four and a third innings of work, despite allowing seven hits.

Kaycee Carbone broke the deadlock after two scoreless innings, reaching on a fielder’s choice to plate Erin Stacevicz in the bottom of the third. Stacevicz blew the game open in the fourth, doubling down the left field line to score Riley Gregoire and Caroline Videtto to make it 3-0.

Jackie Kelley’s single moved Stacevicz to third, before Kelley stole second to set up a second and third situation with no outs, and Kaitlyn Stavinoha coming to the plate. Stavinoha obliged with a double of her own into left, scoring both runners and extending the lead to 5-0.

Stacevicz and Stavinoha were in lockstep in game two, each going 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Gregoire went 2-for-3, and with Kelley’s single, the four combined for all seven of UMass’ hits.

“We’re really trying hard to get us all to click at once,” said Stefanoni, “and I know that that’s hit or miss sometimes for teams and especially for us.”

Having cruised through four innings, Breidenbach found some trouble in the fifth, allowing two runs —including a passed ball — before Stefanoni brought Kenadee Rausch in from the bullpen. Rausch got out of the fifth and threw a scoreless sixth, before some trouble of her own in the seventh as she allowed two unearned runs. A throwing error and a passed ball in the inning helped the Bonnies bring it back to 5-4, but Kiara Oliver came in to shut it down, striking out two to end the game.

“I just think it was a couple pitches here and there that got hit,” Stefanoni said. “We had a little bit of a defensive miscue, I thought we didn’t do a good job of adjusting very well to the second pitcher they brought in, so we had opportunities to score more runs and didn’t do that. I think it’s just the nature of the game, I don’t think there was any lack of focus on our end, just a couple miscues that unfortunately happened with people on base that got them their runs.”

Oliver made sure the first game remained drama-free as she threw seven stellar innings, surrendering just one run and three hits while fanning seven Bonnies en route to her fourth win of the season.

The Minutewomen led 1-0 heading into the fifth before pulling away. A Stacevicz double and a Kelley single quickly put St. Bonaventure’s Rylee Hehir in a sticky spot, and Stavinoha delivered again with a double to bring Stacevicz home and push Kelley to third. Carbone ripped a double down the right field line to score both, Hannah Bunker poked one into left to score Carbone and the lead had ballooned to 5-0.

Bunker was a perfect 3-for-3 in the opener, taking a new approach and running with it.

“I had Hannah slap yesterday and that’s not something she’s used to doing, and it kind of opened up a huge inning for us that she was able to do that,” Stefanoni said. “So not only are we getting different kinds of production from other parts of the lineup, but they’re doing things that maybe they’re not used to doing at practice, they’re coming through and doing it in games. It’s been good to see.”

Oliver allowed a run in the sixth, her only real blemish of the day, before shutting the door in the seventh to lock up the first A-10 win of the year.

“I thought they really fought through a lot of adversity, at the end of the day they just wanted to play their conference games, they didn’t care where they played, and we didn’t either,” Stefanoni said. “They just wanted to get it done. I thought they showed a lot of resiliency. I’m sure there were some nerves opening up the conference series, I don’t care who or where you’re playing, there’s always going to be some nerves, and I thought they handled themselves really well.”

The Minutewomen will take a quick detour from the conference schedule for another trip east, taking on Boston College in a little in-state rivalry action on Wednesday afternoon. First pitch in Chestnut Hill is set for 4 p.m.

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