UMass softball splits doubleheader with St. Joe’s on Saturday

Minutewomen look to win the series on Sunday


Dylan Nguyen / Daily Collegian

By Pedro Gray Soares, Collegian Staff

Saturday was the day of hard-fought games, as the Massachusetts softball team and St. Joseph’s each won a game. The first contest finished in a 2-0 victory for the Minutewomen and the second in a 5-4 nine-inning win for the Hawks.

“I thought we played well all day,” UMass (17-25, 10-7 Atlantic 10) coach Danielle Henderson said. “[2-0 in the first game] and 5-4 in extra innings [in the second game]. We were down and we came back and tied it up, and it could go either way when you get to extra innings.”

In the second game, the Minutewomen fell behind early with a 4-1 deficit by the third inning but recouped and tied it up with a 3-run bottom of the fifth after Kendra Allen got the ball rolling. Allen went 3-for-3 on the game and has been one of UMass’ most reliable offensive threats this season.

In an explosive bottom of the fifth, she singled to left field and advanced to second on the throw into the infield, scoring Payge Suggs in the process. Then, Jules Shields one-upped Allen with a double to left that just stayed in play. With her double she drove in two runs and tied up the game.

That was the last time the Minutewomen scored in the ballgame, as they couldn’t pull through in extra innings.

“I think in the last effort, it was just not scoring when you needed to score,” UMass pitcher Jessie DiPasquale said. “We had the bases loaded a couple times, and we have great hits sometimes but when there’s no one on, if we just learn to combine the runners in scoring position and those hits, then we’ll be completely fine.”

Julianne Bolton pitched the second game for UMass. She had a rough first three innings but adjusted and held St. Joe’s (18-19, 12-7 A-10) scoreless until the ninth inning. Bolton allowed nine hits, five earned runs, walked 10 batters and struck out another 10.

In the top of the third she loaded the bases through allowing a hit, then a walk, then another hit. The Hawks took advantage and scored three quick runs to take a 4-0 lead.

Despite this, Bolton’s ability to rack up strikeouts helped UMass get back in the game. The freshman has shown signs of dominance but has grappled with consistency issues so far this season.

“Julianne [Bolton] did a really amazing job as a freshman, I think she’s really mentally tough,” DiPasquale said. “In the third inning when they scored those three runs, it’s easy as a pitcher to let yourself go down a rabbit hole, I think she really did amazing to come back and get us through the next seven innings.”

Likewise, with the praise Bolton has received from her teammates and fellow pitchers, Henderson shares the same sentiments they have been saying.

“[Bolton has] got good stuff and it moves,” Henderson said. “Now we just got to get her to trust it and throw it in the zone more so she’s not wasting the pitches and walking people, because they are good pitches.”

The second game ended when with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the ninth, Hawks centerfielder Nicole Bondoc reached base on a fielder’s choice and scored Hailey Malito to take the lead. St. Joe’s shut down the Minutewomen in the bottom half of the frame to win 5-4.

In the first game, a red-hot Jessie DiPasquale pitched a complete game for UMass and shutout St Joe’s. She allowed four hits, walked five batters and struck out seven. In her past seven games, DiPasquale has a 5-2 record and a 1.57 ERA.

“I did pretty well in preseason and then I kind of hit a wall,” DiPasquale said. “I’ve been trying my best to get back to feeling comfortable on the mound again, it was a mental thing for me.”

“I’ve just been focused on staying calmer on the mound and just pretending like I’m in a bullpen, because bullpen and games are completely different things, but just pretending like I’m in a bullpen is what’s been getting me through.”

According to Henderson, DiPasquale has gotten better and better. She’s hit her spots and her changeup has been effective; she keeps batters off balance and has hit her corners as of late.

“The big thing, because last year we played St. Joe’s eight times, last year I didn’t have a changeup,” DiPasquale said. “That’s something that was new this year that kept them off balance.”

The game was deadlocked until the bottom of the third inning, when UMass’ Amy Smith singled to left field and scored Emily Whelan in the process for a 1-0 lead.

St. Joe’s had a chance with two runners on base in the top of the fifth, but DiPasquale rose to the occasion and struck out Taylor Marinelli to end the inning. In the following at bat, Kristina Day extended the Minutewomen’s lead to two runs with a solo home run to right field that had just enough juice to get over the fence at Sortino Field.

“That was huge,” Henderson said. “I mean, you have to get as many runs as you can, and I think that relieves a little bit of the pressure on defense because the game could change in an instant.”

UMass will conclude its weekend series against the Hawks on Sunday at Sortino Field. First pitch is set for 12 p.m.

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