Weekend recap: UMass splits with Saint Joseph’s

The Minutewomen end the four-game series with a 12-9 win

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Anish G. Roy

Anish Roy/Daily Collegian

By Lulu Kesin, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts softball team split both days of doubleheaders on the road against Saint Joseph’s, with a win on Friday and Saturday.

In the final game on Saturday, UMass (6-9, 4-6 Atlantic 10) came back, book ending the two-day series of doubleheaders over the Hawks (12-12, 6-1 A-10).

It was nearing the end of a long weekend on the road, with almost four games in 24 hours completed. Following a small Saint Joseph’s lead, the Minutewomen made a double play to close the fourth inning, resulting in high fives all around from head coach Kristi Stefanoni.

UMass broke from the team huddle with smiles and upbeat energy, which carried right into the fifth inning. The Minutewomen went on to score three runs on three hits, in part due to a pinch-hit single from Alyssa Lyon. The lead was then in UMass’ favor, 7-5.

Freshman Bella Pantoja wasn’t satisfied with just the clutch double play for the Minutewomen she made just an inning before and followed up with a backhand catch to stop what could have been a chance for the Hawks to tie the game.

What amazes Stefanoni the most about the freshman, is that she isn’t a natural third baseman, but has made huge plays there so far this season.

“This kid does not play like a freshman…so much maturity and so much growth,” Stefanoni said.

As Stefanoni circled her arm as Amy Smith’s double drove down the third base line, the UMass lead continued to grow. Caroline Deem played her usual producer role, giving the Minutewomen the hits they needed. By the top of the seventh, UMass had scored nine runs in the last three innings. Nine different UMass hitters contributed with a base hit.

The first of two games on Saturday lasted four hours, draining both the mental and physical capabilities for the Minutewomen. In addition, in the first game heat played a factor as well. But the message from coach to players was simple.

“Fight for what you want,” Stefanoni said of her late seventh inning message.

Within the loud atta girl calls coming from the UMass dugout, one unidentified Minutewomen yelled “stay disciplined Jenna,” as bases began to load late in the final inning. Jenna Bradley looked to finish off the Hawks in the seventh inning of a game she started.

Even with somewhat of the weekend riding on her shoulders, the freshman pitcher pulled through despite four runs by the Hawks.

“Jenna did a really, really awesome job of keeping us in the game the entire time,” Stefanoni said. “Everyone stepped up for her and she stepped up for the team.”

All in all, what came to mind to describe what she saw out of her team on Saturday afternoon was straightforward.

“Phenomenal softball,” Stefanoni said.

Momentum carries for Saint Joseph’s from Friday afternoon into Saturday morning

The Hawks were able to continue through their big run-on Friday, and comeback to take down the Minutewomen thanks to a third inning push.

UMass thought they had the game in control when they set off on a 5-0 start to begin the doubleheader on Saturday.

Freshman Payge Suggs wanted in on the hitting success and found herself matching the Minutewomen energy with an RBI single. In the top of the first, UMass had a seven-run inning to start the day. Even when Saint Joseph’s put themselves on the board to make it 8-3, it still looked like the Minutewomen had control.

Similar to other games this weekend against the Hawks, a powerful inning made all the difference, despite any early UMass success. Saint Joseph’s scored eight runs on five hits in the third inning, snagging the lead, making it 11-9.

With damage continuing to be done, Saint Joseph’s loaded the bases but an inning ending strikeout from Bradley kept the Hawks lead to 13-9.

Caroline Deem and Amy Smith worked to cut the lead deficit to three, but the sixth inning sealed the Hawks victory. Saint Joseph’s had four runs on six hits, topping off game one with a 17-11 win

The Hawks seek revenge in game two

In the latter half of the doubleheader on Friday afternoon, the Hawks took down the Minutewomen, 9-3 after UMass took game one, 3-1.

UMass was able to jump ahead from the start but couldn’t govern the game throughout the following innings.

Deem doubled, sending Kendra Allen and Amy Smith home in the top of the first but Saint Joseph’s had it all tied up in their half of the first. After the Hawks went up 3-2, an RBI triple for Jules Shield tied the game back up 3-3.

After junior Kristina Day made a diving catch to save a run in the bottom of the fourth, it seemed as though the pace of the game picked up, with momentum in favor of UMass.

However, the tables were completely turned when Saint Joseph’s scored six runs off five hits in its half of the fifth, shifting the score and pace of the game completely. Madison Fife started the inning with a homerun to left field, and her teammates followed suit. The Hawks ended up passing the bat, just like Stefanoni asked her Minutewomen to do.

UMass was unable to match the offensive success and fell short of any runs in the final three innings.

Even with an early day win under their belt, Stefanoni was not fond of the softball her team played.

“We looked really sloppy, a little sluggish…it wasn’t good softball,” Stefanoni.

The Minutewomen come out strong to hold off Saint Joseph’s in game one on Friday

The Minutewomen were able to get momentum early on due to a leadoff walk from freshman Bella Pantoja. Pantoja made her way to third after a bunt from Kristina Day and eventually Allen hit sent Pantoja home.

Once again, the duo of Caroline Deem and Caroline Videtto stepped up and drove the ship for the Minutewomen. Still in their half of the first, Deem tripled to score Amy Smith to advance the score to 2-0 to start game one.

After a dry spell for the following innings, a top of the sixth single from Videtto eventually lead to another score for the Minutewomen, Videtto was 3-for-4 in game one, with three straight hits to start the game. To finish off the opening game on Friday, Videtto’s performance picked up her seventh hit in seven trips to the plate in the last two games, going back to Tuesday’s matchup against Rhode Island.

The trio of Pantoja, Deem and Caroline Videtto have done nothing but pull through for Stefanoni’s coaching staff, earning every bit of praise there is.

“I can’t say enough about the three of them,” Stefanoni said.

Jessie DiPasquale finished with nine strikeouts, allowing just four hits and no runs earned. When it looked like the Hawks could heat up, DiPasquale retired eight consecutive hitters from the third to fifth inning.

UMass heads home to face Maine on Tuesday, for a doubleheader at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.

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