UMass sweeps Bryant on Tuesday afternoon

The Minutewomen get their first two wins of the season

Collegian+File+Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Lulu Kesin, Collegian Staff

Members of the Massachusetts’s softball team let out a sigh of relief when freshman Bella Pantoja came across home plate to score the Minutewomen’s first run this season.

A beautiful start to the day for the Minutewomen after the team’s first win against Bryant remained just as beautiful when the sun set as UMass (2-2) swept Bryant (1-3) in a doubleheader on Tuesday.

As far as the first of two matchups, it was a story of firsts that put the Minutewomen on top, 15-6 to start the day.

After going scoreless the first two games of the season, UMass was the first to score and from there, never gave up dominance. Caroline Deem recorded her first career homerun that put the Minutewomen up 5-0 in the top of the first.

“I have been saying to [assistant coach Laura Messina] for the last maybe week how Caroline has been on absolute fire at practice,” said UMass head coach Kristi Stefanoni. “She has been doing such a great job finding a way to get into the lineup.”

Stefanoni’s mentality as a coach is to have players that make her life harder, by showing up in practice to earn a starting spot. Deem’s consistent performance at the plate in practice earned her the spot in the lineup on Tuesday, and her performance in the game proved she belonged.

“She did amazing, she was absolutely on fire,” Stefanoni said. “It was unreal. I’m really proud of her today.”

Momentum remained in the following inning in Deem’s and the Minutewomen’s favor. After a single from Juliana Shields, Kendra Allen followed and eventually a hit from Deem sent both Allen and Shields home.

To add to the firsts, Pantoja snagged her first RBI in UMass’ half of the third, to bring the Minutewomen up 8-0. With eight different UMass hitters recording a base hit, the wealth was shared as the Minutewomen had 10 hits total in the first game.

“I just felt that once we started to hit and score runs, we were going to be on a roll,” Stefanoni said. “They just looked so comfortable…we had a plan against all the Bryant pitchers, and they followed the plan, to a tee.”

To see her players calm and confident in the game was fantastic to Stefanoni, but she stressed that she isn’t surprised based on how the Minutewomen are in practice every day.

Right when the game began to seem out of touch for Bryant, in the bottom of the fourth, the Bulldogs came alive and put themselves on the board. A grand slam from freshman Megan Marcel made the score 10-5.

UMass sophomore pitcher Jessie DiPasquale bore down and stopped what looked like a hot at bat for Bryant, holding the Bulldogs to just two hits in the final two innings. DiPasquale threw nine strikeouts in the first game.

Endurance is the name of the game, and the Minutewomen had endurance on full display in game two of a lengthy two game matchup.

The first inning for the Minutewomen did not exactly carry over in game two. As the sun was at peak brightness, causing errors for both teams, it was a pitcher’s duel as the game went scoreless until the top of the fourth.

UMass still had gas left in the tank after a strong offensive performance in game one and with a leadoff single, Deem snagged her fourth hit of the day. Shields followed up with

inside the park home run and the Minutewomen knocked in 7 hits in its half of the fourth.

DiPasquale led the way when it came to fight throughout the entire doubleheader which only made her teammates fight harder as a result.

“No one had more endurance or energy than Jessie today,” Stefanoni said. “Throwing two games for us. She was just on a roll and we just stuck with it because she was looking so good and so successful against their hitters…she did a fantastic job. I think that the team fed off of that.”

Junior Carly Hernandez gave the Bulldogs a big homerun in their chance at bat. Marcel did not back down and followed up with her second homerun of the day, giving Bryant back-to-back dingers. But that was all Bryant was able to do in game two.

The Minutewomen completed the sweep with a 10-2 win in game two, pleasing the coaching staff despite the uncertainty with the first doubleheader in the season.

“All I could say at the end of the games was how proud I was of every single kid on the team,” Stefanoni said.

UMass heads home for the first time this season for a busy weekend. The Minutewomen have their first conference games against Fordham on Friday, with a doubleheader on Saturday and a single game to close out the weekend on Sunday.

For UMass, the first conference game of the season will be treated no differently as they hope to build off Tuesday’s momentum heading into the weekend.

Lulu Kesin can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @Lulukesin.