UMass softball loses tight game late after Syracuse solo homerun seals it in the seventh

DiPasquale’s near-perfect game ruined by late-game heroics

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Anish G. Roy

Anish Roy/Daily Collegian

By Myles Carter, Collegian Correspondent

After coming into this week on a four-game losing streak, the Massachusetts women’s softball team looked to bounce back and exhibit resiliency as it has in the past when facing non-conference and last-minute schedule additions. Such as of the University of Syracuse on Friday.

Going into this week, the Minutewomen (2-7, 0-5 Atlantic 10) were initially scheduled to play a four-game series with the University of Rhode Island, but after the Ram’s had a brush with COVID-19 cases and had to enforce protocols, there was no other choice than to postpone those games for a later date.

“Unfortunately for us where we are in the Northeast, a lot of schools are going only conferences or once they start conference they can’t play out of conference,” said UMass head coach Kristi Stefanoni. “So I was more than happy when Syracuse called and asked to set up a game, like lets go! The more games the better.”

“I’m just trying to get us as many games as possible, we have standards and expectations for how we’re taking these games but really it’s just, I just want to play and the kids just want to play and the more you play the more experience you get and the better you get and the more that you can learn.”

Although the Minutewomen played the Orange (11-9, 6-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) back in the Tiger Classic during the 2018 season, the two teams aren’t familiar with each other, and Stefanoni decided it was better for her team to work on fundamentals going to the matchup.

“We just went through our normal practice without knowing we were going to play them, we were using the time that we had to get better at little things technically and this was very last minute that it happened,” Stefanoni said. “There wasn’t too much game prep for Syracuse so we just really took care of ourselves thinking we would just get better at some technical stuff. Our goal today was to pick a few things to get better at from our last game which was Fordham. Slowly but surely, we’re getting there.”

“The four goals we had were, we were going to attack early and swing at strikes more often because we tend to get down a bit. 100% execution, no back-to-back mistakes and less than two errors a game.”

As far as their goals are concerned, they met most if not all of them in the game against Syracuse. They got hits and were able to put the ball in play, getting players on base while not being overly aggressive. To go with that offensive attack, UMass’ defense and especially its pitcher Jessie DiPasquale kept the Orange’s offense in check, allowing only a single hit and no runs through six innings. To top it all off, the Minutewomen had zero errors in the game, which has been a struggle for this team throughout the season.

After six innings, the game was deadlocked at 0-0. Both teams were unable to score. It wasn’t until the top of the seventh when Syracuse senior infielder Gabrielle Teran hit a homerun roughly 30 feet past the left-field wall, giving the Orange a 1-0 lead.

Teran’s homerun stopped the shutout and ended DiPasquale’s near-perfect game, but there was still hope since the Minutewomen would have another at-bat and a chance to even the score or take the lead.

With two outs and UMass’s back against the wall after the first two at-bats resulting in strikeouts, Stefanoni wanted to try something to give them a spark and possibly win the game. She decided to use a pinch hitter, having Alyssa Lyons bat for Hannah Bunker.

“I like to tell them my reasons for why I do stuff, I just needed a different look,” Stefanoni said. “Hannah had not gotten on [base] and we needed somebody that possibly could, so I was looking for a different look. Alyssa is a right-handed hitter and she is taller, it was just a different look, a different way for a pitcher to pitch somebody and I thought that maybe we could get a little something going with a different approach.”

In the end, Lyons would strike out swinging, and the Minutewomen would go on to lose, but not for lack of trying or effort, as the game was neck and neck the entire time.

“It’s unfortunate that it ended that way, I was really proud of Jesse [DiPasquale], that’s the best game I’ve seen her throw to date,” Stefanoni said. “Syracuse is a great hitting team, they’re probably one of the better ones that we’ll see all season and she had their number until the solo homerun in the top of the 7th inning. She was really good, really really good.”

The Minutewomen fall to 2-7 on the season and have a few days off before picking play back up at Sortino Field on April 6 at 1 p.m. in a two-game series against Rhode Island.

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