Growing pains continue for Minutewomen softball in 10-0 loss to BC

Kristi Stefanoni highlights lack of time and experience in the loss but believes in her team

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J.GIBSON-OKUNIEFF

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By Myles Carter, Collegian Correspondent

As the top of the fifth inning came to a close Friday afternoon, the Massachusetts softball team found itself in a hole similar to its first game.

Coming into this week after a loss to Delaware, head coach Kristi Stefanoni mentioned a few things that the Minutewomen (0-2) wanted to work on.

“We really just focused on competing the best we could every day at practice, getting in the things we needed to work on, fundamentally and mechanically,” Stefanoni said. “It’s really hard after just playing one game to come away with this big ole game plan, so we just tried to take our mishaps from Delaware and work on that, as we got ready for Boston College.”

Both games were finished by the fifth inning—due to run rules—with double-digit losses, showing similar activity in the box score. The scoring struggles were on display again on Friday against the Eagles (4-7, 1-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), having scored no runs yet this season, not to mention very few hits along with some errors.

However, Stefanoni does not think the box score tells all and has seen improvement and growth within her team from just five days ago.

“Unfortunately, it’s really hard to tell by probably looking at a box score, or even watching the game or even reading the score. But there were a lot of really good things that we did today that were completely different from last week,” Stefanoni said. “I found our at-bats and our presence was a little bit better, I know it doesn’t show because we don’t have any hits on the board, but we put the ball in play a little bit.”

Although there was less activity today than on Sunday, Stefanoni was encouraged by her team’s performance and keyed in on two of her players whom she felt stepped up and had important moments to take away from the game.

“We had Jesse [DiPasquale] on the mound, she had a lot of great [moments] in a couple of innings, and got herself out of some big jams which were really good.” Stefanoni said. “We had some different people in different positions too, Amy Smith did a fanatic job behind the plate, this was her first time catching in probably four years, our catcher got hurt last week so she was unable to play.”

When asked about playing Boston College and how the difference in games played affected them, Stefanoni had this to say “obviously, we prepped the best we could for Boston College but it was more about us, and it was more about us getting better. They’ve played 11 now, this was No. 2 for us, so I don’t care who you are, what team you are, that’s going to mean something.

“BC has had 11 chances, with each game going seven innings to do that and we haven’t yet and I think that’s important for our team to know and to remember. It’s not a way to use it as an excuse, it’s the truth and its reality. The stuff we’re trying to work on and get better at can only happen, sometimes through experience, game experience, and through time and unfortunately for us right now we don’t have the time.”

With COVID, UMass didn’t play in the fall and had a condensed ramp up to the season in January and February thanks to a campus-wide shutdown a few weeks ago. Compare that to BC who already has 11 games under its belt and its easy to see an experience gap.

“It’s only our second game of the year we just really tried to focus on us and what our bigger picture, the main goal is which is for us is to get better day by day and be ready by [the] time we start conference [games] which is happening in two weeks.”

In the message to the team after the game, Stefanoni told the team, something her coach used to tell her and her teammates which was “to be patient with your own rate of success and the team’s rate of success. Everybody is different, everybody’s process is different, everybody’s success is going to be different, when they see it and when it clicks for them.

“We’re still learning, I’m still learning them, I know what makes them tick, that’s an easy thing for me as their coach but I know that we are a bunch of fighters and we’re going to play through this,” Stefanoni said. “Every chance that you get to play a softball game is a blessing this year, they need to go out and fight and I know that they will and I have confidence in them and that we’ll figure it out, we just need some time.”

The Minutewomen have ample time to work on things as they have a two-week break in play before their next game at Sortino Field, on March 26 at 2 p.m. against. Fordham.

Myles Carter can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @MCarterWrites.