Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass softball sweeps St. Bonaventure in weekend series

Minutewomen earn first sweep of the season
Maya Geer / Daily Collegian

The Massachusetts softball team swept St. Bonaventure in its three game weekend series. The Minutewomen snapped their two game losing streak and found themselves back in the win column and on a winning streak to end the weekend.

In the last game of the series, pitcher Jessie DiPasquale and lead-off hitter Bella Pantoja guided UMass (15-26, 8-6 Atlantic 10) to a 7-5 victory over the Bonnies (7-30, 1-17 A-10).

DiPasquale continued her streak of dominance on the mound after subbing in for Jenna Bradley, who gave up five walks in the first two innings, letting the Bonnies take an early 2-0 lead.

With DiPasquale on the mound, the Minutewomen controlled the game and held St. Bonaventure scoreless in all but the fourth inning. In her last three starts, DiPasquale has allowed an average of 1.33 earned runs a game. She allowed one on Saturday after subbing in during the second inning.

“I thought [DiPasquale] did well,” UMass coach Danielle Henderson said. “She went right after the batters, that’s what we’ve been wanting her to attack her pitches … She did a good job all weekend too.”

Pantoja had perhaps the most special weekend of everyone. In the bottom of the second in the last game, Pantoja tripled to center field and scored Giana Wameling in the process to tie the game up at two apiece. Then, in the fifth she doubled to right field and scored off a Payge Suggs single, extending the lead to 7-5. Pantoja went 3-for-4 with three runs in the game.

“I had a different mindset going up there, I was really playing for my mom this weekend,” Pantoja said emotionally, as her mother passed away last summer. “That was the most important thing and I really felt her, and I think that’s what really helped me calm myself down.”

“[Pantoja is] our lead-off batter because she impacts the game,” Henderson said. “She’s so smart, too. She’s a triple threat. She can bunt, she can slap, she can hit it to the fence or hit it out. It’s really great to have her at the top of that lineup.”

In the second game of the series on Friday afternoon, UMass attacked the Bonnies early, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first off of two errors and three hits of its own. The Minutewomen built off this early momentum, finishing the game with at least one hit in every inning following the first.

UMass ran into trouble in the top of the fourth, as St. Bonaventure scored three of its eventual four runs in this frame. This was the only inning that starting pitcher Julianne Bolton struggled in, with four of the seven hits she allowed coming in this inning. The freshman pitcher continued her strong performance as of late, with nine strikeouts and four walks over seven innings pitched.

“[Bolton’s] ball moves, so she’s able to get some swing and misses, and I think she’ll just get better with that,” Henderson said. “The more confidence you have, the more you can place it in the zone, and if you can throw it in the zone and get it to move, that’s where you get the swing and misses.”

Defense shone for the Minutewomen as well, as first baseman Kendra Allen made several diving plays to save what would have been extra bases for the Bonnies, and third baseman Grace Cadden made a diving stop and threw onto first from her knees to nail the runner. The Minutewomen committed two errors over the double-header on Friday.

UMass took advantage of every scoring opportunity that St. Bonaventure gave them, as four of the eventual nine runs it scored were unearned. Despite this strong offensive performance, the Minutewomen left 12 runners on base. UMass won the second game by a score of 9-4.

That performance was a stark contrast to UMass’ performance in the first game of the day, in which it was held to zero runs until the bottom of the seventh. Down by two, Cadden tripled to score Kristina Day and bring the Minutewomen within a run. With runners on second and third, Pantoja hit a line drive into left center to knot the game at two.

Suggs was intentionally walked by the Bonnies, which loaded the bases. Taking a ball of the arm, Chloe Whittier won it for UMass on a walk-off hit by pitch, its first of the season.

The starting pitcher for the Minutewomen, DiPasquale struck out seven and allowed five hits over seven innings pitched. She allowed two runs, with one of them being earned. Since March 26 against Saint Louis, she has dropped her ERA from 5.17 to 4.15.

“I thought [the team] did exactly what we asked them to do,” Henderson said. “I’m hoping that we can take that and just kind of roll with it into [Rhode Island] on Tuesday, and just keep going with it.”

UMass next faces off against Rhode Island on the road on Wednesday with first pitch set for 3 p.m.

Johnny Depin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @jdepin101. Pedro Gray Soares can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @P_GraySoares.

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