Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass’ season ends in the A-10 tournament with 8-2 loss to Fordham

Minutewomen bounced by Rams in A-10 tournament for third consecutive year

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UMass’ season ends in the A-10 tournament with 8-2 loss to Fordham

Eva Trainer

Eva Trainer

Eva Trainer

By Tim Sorota, Collegian Staff

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Friday was just not their day.

For the third year in a row, the Massachusetts softball team had its season end at the hands of Fordham, falling 8-2 to their arch- rival on Friday in the Atlantic 10 tournament. The loss caps a season which saw the Minutewomen go 26-22 overall and finish second in the A-10 regular season standings.

The Fordham bats got on Minutewomen starter Kiara Oliver from the get-go. Leadoff hitter Chelsea Skrepenak took the first pitch she saw from Oliver and deposited it into center field.

Oliver’s day only got worse from there. She found herself with two strikes on the next hitter before a pitch got away and plunked Jordy Storm in the side. She walked Molly Roark in the next at-bat to immediately load the bases. Finally, Madie Aughinbaugh made Oliver pay for her command issues by stroking a base hit and plating two runs.

Just like that, Oliver’s last outing of the season was over.

“They were aggressive, swinging at the first pitch,” coach Kristi Stefanoni said. “And the first pitch was probably a little too much on the plate and they just came out and they competed. First pitch swingers, which we knew they would be.”

Quinn Breidenbach came in for Oliver and worked out of the jam without surrendering any more runs. She would not have that same success in the next few innings.

In the second, Fordham strung together three straight hits for two more runs and UMass found itself down four runs for the second consecutive game.

But unlike yesterday’s win against Saint Louis, the Minutewomen could not dig themselves out of that hole. Aside from seniors Erin Stacevicz, Kaitlyn Stavinoha and Kaycee Carbone hitting in the two through four spots, the entire lineup struggled against Fordham pitcher Madie Aughinbaugh.

“Her curveball was really tough for our righties to hit,” Stefanoni said, “and after batters one through four you are looking at some righties. I think it was just really difficult for us to put a good swing on that curveball and that was probably the reason that our rallies came up a little bit short.”

UMass had their best chance to claw back into it in the fourth. Stacevicz  led off with a single, and Stavinoha laid down a beautiful bunt, which rolled to a perfect spot right between the third baseman and catcher to put the first two runners on. Carbone brought Stacevicz in to score with a single to left-center, trimming the lead down to three.

The next three batters could not deliver, however. Danielle Ellis took a called third strike, Melissa Garcia grounded into a fielder’s choice, and Amy Smith popped up to second to end the rally.

“We just had a really hard time stringing things together after batter four, sometimes maybe five,” Stefanoni said. “I do think that we were aggressive we just could not put it together when we needed to.”

After UMass failed to get more than one run in the fourth, Fordham put the game away.  Once again, the Rams strung together three consecutive hits, with Aughbinbaugh crushing a pitch out of the park for a two-run homer and a 7-1 Rams lead.

Aughinbaugh’s heroics at the plate and on the mound were too much for the Minutewomen. UMass never got comfortable at the plate at any point in the game.

UMass added a run in the sixth to make it 7-2, Fordham answered in the bottom half to make it 8-2, and the Minutewomen fell by that score.

“They compete,” Stefanoni said. “They turn it on, and they compete, and I think at the end of the day, that is what they had over us.”

With the win, Fordham advances to take on Saint Joseph’s while UMass heads into the offseason.

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

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