UMass defeats Fordham 4-1

Minutewomen take two out of three from Fordham

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UMass defeats Fordham 4-1

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

J.GIBSON-OKUNIEFF

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

J.GIBSON-OKUNIEFF

J.GIBSON-OKUNIEFF

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

By Tim Sorota, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts softball team defeated Fordham on Sunday 4-1 to take two out of three in their weekend series. The game had huge implications for the Atlantic 10 standings with the teams being ranked second and first, respectively, in the conference with less than two weeks until the A-10 tournament. UMass improves their conference record to 11-4 while Fordham falls to 15-5 having played five more conference games than the Minutewomen.

The game was a battle throughout with both pitchers throwing a complete game. Quinn Breidenbach picked up the win for UMass to improve her record to 10-4 while Fordham’s Madie Aughinbaugh received the loss dropping her record to 14-10.

“I’m really proud of the energy that we showed the entire weekend,” said coach Kristi Stefanoni, “the pride that we had for UMass softball. I hope we can take that into next weekend.”

The Minutewomen made more of their opportunities and received timely defensive plays which helped keep the Rams baserunners from scoring.

In the top of the first, Fordham’s Jordy Storm doubled with one out to put some early pressure on UMass. After Breidenbach struck out Molly Roark swinging, Storm tried to advance to third base on a ball in the dirt. Catcher Danielle Ellis got the ball and fired a strike to third base where Kendra Allen delivered the tag on Storm to end the top half of the inning.

UMass went on to score a run in their half of the first thanks to a Kaycee Carbone RBI single which was her 100th of her collegiate career.

The Minutewomen would extend their lead to three in the bottom of the inning. After Erin Stacevicz reached first on a single, Kaitlyn Stavinoha deposited a pitch over the right field wall for her second homerun on the weekend.

“I am just trying to see a strike and hit it hard,” Stavinoha said. “I have faced [Aughinbaugh] a lot so I kind of know what she throws. So, I was just looking for that and she threw it to me.”

The homerun was her fifth of the season.

Fordham would respond in the next half inning. Storm was at it again, leading off the inning by sending a Breidenbach pitch to nearly the same spot as Stavinoha’s to put the Rams on the scoreboard. The next batter reached on an error.

With a runner on first and the momentum appearing to be back in Fordham’s favor, Aughinbaugh hit a blooper that looked destined for the centerfield grass until Stacevicz appeared out of nowhere to make a great sliding grab for the first out. UMass would get out of the inning when the next batter smacked a pitch to Hannah Bunker who tagged second and had plenty of time to throw to first to complete the double play and get out of the inning.

“Sometimes it’s a little hit or miss,” Stefanoni said about her defense. “But they stepped up big time behind her. When the team has their eyes set on something, they go after it, they compete, it is crazy what they can accomplish.”

The play of the day defensively may have been one that did not even result in an out. In the top of the fifth, after Fordham put a runner on first, Deanna Burbridge laced a pitch to the left center field gap. It seemed like both baserunners were destined to be in scoring position but Carbone sprinted to the ball and made a strong throw to third so they could not advance. This proved to be huge as the next batter reached on a single to load the bases. But, once again, Breidenbach proved to be just a little bit better than Fordham and got Storm to pop up to right to strand all three runners.

Fordham would put baserunners on in the next two innings but failed to push any across the plate while UMass added one insurance run in the fourth to secure the victory 4-1.

“It was huge,” Breidenbach said emphatically. “It was the biggest weekend by far. It was a confidence builder for this team and its good mojo for us to roll into this next week.”

UMass will be back in action on Tuesday when they face off against Providence. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Sortino Field.

Tim Sorota can be reached at [email protected] or followed on twitter @timsorota.