Seniors play their final games in an eventful series against Rhode Island

The Minutewomen finish the weekend 3-1 to end the season

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Kago Motsoma/Daily Collegian

By Myles Carter, Collegian Staff

Coming off the heels of a very tough series against Fordham (36-8, 17-3 Atlantic-10) last weekend, the Massachusetts softball team looked to wipe the slate clean and prepare for its final matchup of the season against Rhode Island.

“Honestly we flushed it, we really did,” head coach Kristi Stefanoni said going into this week’s matchup. “We didn’t spend a lot of time talking about it, we knew we had a quick turnaround until it was time to play Rhode Island and it was our senior weekend so my message to them was to flush it, all four games and move onto Rhode Island and focus on coming away winning the series, finishing the season at .500 and having a really good weekend for our seniors.”

The series began on Friday, and game one was a clear indication of how much each team wanted to win and what was to come of this matchup for the rest of the weekend. The Rams (5-21, 2-12 A-10) started off the day scoring in the second inning, earning just one run. UMass (16-17, 12-12 A-10) came back in the bottom of the second to take the lead 2-1.

The Minutewomen doubled down by scoring another two runs in the fourth. Rhode Island caught fire in the top of the sixth, scoring a heaping seven runs and taking the lead 4-8. UMass would not back down, adding another three in the bottom of that same inning to cut the lead to one. The Rams would go scoreless the next two innings while the Minutewomen added another two runs, the latter being a walk-off RBI by Amy Smith ending game 1, 9-8.

Day two and subsequent games three and four had not only similar storylines but also outcomes.

For game two, Rhode Island got things started in the top of the second, scoring a single run, but UMass would return the favor its next at-bat. The third inning is where things got interesting, URI scored four runs only to be topped by the Minutewomen’s five, but it was just the beginning of this hitting exhibition.

The Rams could not keep up, scoring only a single run to UMass’ three in the fourth inning. Again falling short, adding just another point while the Minutewomen dropped four more in the bucket, winning the game 13-7.

Game three started just a little differently because UMass began the scoring with one run in the first in response to the Rams not putting anything on the board. That trend continued as Rhode Island would again go scoreless in the second while the Minutewomen would bring six runs home. The Rams’ shutout would continue as UMass tallied two more runs in the fourth, and the mercy rule would be instituted, ending the game, 9-0 in five innings, capping off the Minutewomen clinic of 22 runs on the day.

On Sunday, the Rams finally got things to go their way. URI kicked off game three by getting out to a three-run lead in the first and holding until the third. UMass responded with three runs of its own, tying it 3-3 after three innings. Momentum would stay on the Minutewomen’s side as they would add another run while the Rams let off the brake in the fourth with none, 4-3. URI would proceed full throttle, scoring eight runs in the next three innings, to UMass’ one, winning the game 11-5.

Stefanoni had a brief confrontation with referees in the bottom of the sixth of game four after a double play that would have ended the inning was waived off.

“We made a great play at home on a squeeze play, the runner was out at home and our catcher threw to third base to get the third out of the inning and the umpire said that the ball was bobbled, and it wasn’t,” Stefanoni said. “I’m going to do whatever it takes for my kids, and for my team and I’m going to fight as hard as I can to try and get that reversed. But they were interested in listening, and that call ruined our momentum.”

After the final game of the series, Stefanoni reflected on the season.

“This year shows the guts and resilience that we have,” Stefanoni said. “What we did and what we accomplished this year was huge in a year with so many crazy challenges we persevered, and we won a good amount of games, we won some great games. But I am very much looking forward to next year, we’re going to miss our seniors but I’m looking forward to the class that’s returning, the class I’m bringing in and I’m looking forward to getting after it, I’m all ready to go for next season.”

But Stefanoni also looks forward to the future.

“I’m looking forward to a normal season,” Stefanoni said. “Having all of our games and being normal, but I don’t think anybody outside of the team thought we were ever going to do as well as we did. The ups and downs we had this season, having only two pitchers on the roster, which was completely unexpected, we did really, really good for the season that we had.”

Seniors Hannah Bunker, Alyssa Lyon, Amy Smith, and Caroline Videtto will be graduating from  UMass next Friday.13 Minutewomen will be returning next season, with the addition of a freshman class in hopes of picking up where they left off.

Second basewomen and outfielder Hannah Bunker finished her career with 137 games played, a batting average of .305, 63 runs, 116 hits, and 57 RBI.

Alyssa Lyon caps off her career with 93 games played, a batting average of .207, 18 runs, 40 hits, and 34 RBI.

Catcher and third basemen Amy Smith will graduate with 114 games played, a batting average of .280, 51 runs, 82 hits, and 45 RBI.

Rotational infielder and outfielder Caroline Videtto finishes with 105 games played, a batting average of .294, 51 runs, 58 hits, and 36 RBI.

The Minutewomen finished the season 16-17, 12-12 in conference play, ranking third place in the Softball North Atlantic 10 Division, falling just five games behind second place and out of contention for the Atlantic 10 conference championship.

With life under the pandemic improving and the University returning to normalcy with full operation back in the fall, UMass softball will be back sometime in September to do it all over again and compete for an A-10 Championship.

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