UMass softball splits Senior Day doubleheader with rival Fordham

Quinn Breidenbach pitched 11 2/3 innings across the two games


(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

By Daniel McGee, Collegian Staff

Taking on its biggest rivals in the Atlantic 10 conference, the Massachusetts softball team split Saturday’s doubleheader with Fordham, dropping game one but rallying to win game two.

The doubleheader marks the first matchup between the Minutewomen (22-19, 10-4 Atlantic 10) and the Rams (24-21, 15-4 A-10) since Fordham defeated UMass in the Atlantic-10 championship game last season.

“I told them after the game was over how proud I was of them,” coach Kristi Stefanoni said. “I haven’t seen us show up like that all season. I don’t know if it was Senior Day, or the rivalry that we have, but I was so proud of the way they played throughout all 14 innings today. Regardless of a couple of miscues here or there, they came out with so much pride. How could you be upset with them?”

UMass starting pitcher Quinn Breidenbach went the distance in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader, allowing nine hits but only one earned run over a complete seven innings of work.

“[Breidenbach] was great,” said Stefanoni. “I told her after game one was over ‘you’re our ride or die right now, we’re going with you.’ I think she might’ve had something a little bit different today than [Kenadee Rausch] did that was throwing Fordham off a bit. She was able to stay strong and finish the rest of that game, she did really well, did her job and we played good defense behind her.”

Breidenbach worked around four Minutewomen errors, minimizing the damage of the Rams batting order. Her only earned run of the game came via an RBI groundout in the first inning, after which she settled in and coasted her way to the complete game victory.

With her defense making a few miscues, Breidenbach didn’t falter, but remained steadfast in her pitching approach.

“I felt great, I had no worries about [trusting the defense] today at all,” said Breidenbach. “I felt really good in the circle. Errors are meant to happen, it’s the way the game is played, more times or not it’s how runs are scored. It’s the sport, you learn from it and you pick up your teammates. I thought we did a really good job of the whole team picking each other up today.”

The Minutewomen did a tremendous job of making up for errors in the batter’s box, slugging their way to the 11-6 victory. Kaitlyn Stavinoha started off the offensive barrage, ripping a two-run home run in the first inning to open the scoring attack.

Kendra Allen followed up Stavinoha’s bomb with a solo homer of her own to start the second inning. After allowing four unearned runs in the top of the third, the Minutewomen added two more runs in the bottom of half to tie the game at five.

UMass blew the doors open in the fifth and six innings, adding three runs in each of the late frames. Stavinoha ripped a two-RBI single with two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth to grow the Minutewomen lead to 8-6. The senior finished the afternoon with 5 RBIs over the two games.

“We always say just keep doing what we do,” said Stavinoha. “We know we’re all good hitters on our team. Anyone can come through at any given time so we just kept with what our plan was and stayed pushing and it did a great job for us today.”

A Fordham error in the bottom of the sixth allowed UMass to add three more insurance runs, en route to an 11-6 victory.

Runners left stranded plague UMass in game one

Squandering a pair of two-run home runs, the Minutewomen were unable to overcome an early game one deficit, falling 6-3.

The bats on both sides exploded early, as all nine of the game’s runs were scored over the first three innings. Fordham starting pitcher and cleanup hitter Madie Aughinbaugh helped herself out, ripping a two-RBI double into the gap to build a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the first.

The Minutewomen entered Senior Day ready to hit, answering Fordham’s early scoring effort as seniors Erin Stacevicz, Kaitlyn Stavinoha and Kaycee Carbone laced three consecutive doubles in the bottom half to tie the score 2-2. Stacevicz would add an RBI on a single in the bottom of the second, giving UMass a 3-2 lead.

The lead wouldn’t last long as Fordham slugger Molly Roark blasted a two-run home run out of the stadium in the top of the third to retake the lead 4-3, chasing Minutewomen starting pitcher Kenadee Rausch. The freshman pitcher finished allowing six hits and four earned runs over 2 1/3 innings.

Quinn Breidenbach relieved Rausch, giving up a two-run dinger to Fordham right fielder Maria Trivelpiece, the first batter she faced, extending the Rams lead to 6-3. Breidenbach would settle down after the homer, allowing no more runs to score over the final 4.2 innings.

“Quinn was amazing today,” Flick said. “She stepped up for us big time. She was a workhorse today and she was awesome.”

The Minutewomen had ample opportunities to rally back for the lead but couldn’t capitalize. UMass put two runners on with no outs in the bottom of the third, but a deep fly ball for an out and a pair of strikeouts were enough for Fordham to tightrope out of the inning.

The next best scoring opportunity for UMass came in the bottom of the sixth, as two Minutewomen batters reached base via error with two outs. Stavinoha however popped out to third to end the inning, stranding both runners.

UMass left nine runners on base during game one. However, Stefanoni didn’t see that as a major issue for UMass.

“Even in the 6-3 loss, I really thought we were still going to win that game even until the last batter,” Stefanoni said. “I was just really proud of them today, I think they showed a lot of pride.”

Despite being unable to win both games on Saturday, Stefanoni expressed pride in her senior class.

“[The seniors] are irreplaceable,” said Stefanoni. “What they’ve done for our program for the past four years, they were my first recruiting class, they took a huge chance on me. They stuck with me, they could’ve went and found another school but they stuck with me. They mean a lot to me with how they’ve represented our program and our university, it’s been outstanding. All six of them are really amazing human beings and they did really well today.”

The six UMass seniors combined for 17 hits, nine RBIs and eight runs on Senior Day. The motivation for their success was not hard to figure out.

“I hate to say it but [playing against rival Fordham on Senior Day] does give you a little extra motivation,” Stavinoha said. “I wish that it wasn’t true that they get us a little more amped up than everybody else, but they definitely do, they’re our biggest rivals for sure.”

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