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 leaves Charleston with winning record

Minutewomen go 3-2 in the Charleston Southern Tournament
Jeff Bernstein / Daily Collegian.

After coming up empty in the USF tournament last weekend, the Massachusetts softball team turned its fortunes around on Saturday and Sunday, winning its final three games of the Charleston Southern Tournament after starting the weekend 0-2 to finish at 3-2.

The Minutewomen (3-6) rode on the back of its pitching staff over the five games with the most hits that were allowed being five.

Jessie DiPasquale is still the same pitcher that was seen last season, throwing 14 innings, allowing three earned runs, nine hits while striking out 11. Julianne Bolton, who finished last season with a 5.03 ERA, was just as dominant as DiPasquale, if not more so. Bolton similarly pitched 14 innings over the weekend and allowed three earned runs.

Bolton had 17 K’s for the weekend and only two walks. Natalee Horton got the nod in the fifth and final game of the tournament, a game which marked her first collegiate win and shutout. Horton would go the distance, striking out five while allowing five hits.

“They’re executing all of their pitches, their balls are moving,” head coach Danielle Henderson said. “They’re hitting their spots, they’ve grown a lot that way. [Bolton and DiPasquale] have a lot more confidence on the mound. [Horton], she’s a freshman for us, and she got us a shutout.”

UMass out-hit its opponents in three of its five games, with the most coming in its victory against North Dakota, the same game where Bolton notched her 11 strikeouts. Sarah Keagy, Abby Packard and Emily Whelan all notched two hits in the game, with Keagy’s first hit resulting in two RBI in the top of the third. Packard and Grace Cadden had a pair of triples in the top of the fifth inning that would seal the game for the Minutewomen.

With the Minutewomen struggling in their first tournament of the year, Henderson set expectations for this tournament.

“We just relaxed a little bit. We didn’t put as much pressure on ourselves and we were able to compete like we did last weekend,” Henderson said. “It does a lot [for our confidence]. The [USF tournament] was pretty tough competition, this tournament I definitely expected us to come away with a winning record.

Despite the winning record, UMass played very evenly throughout its five games. Every game besides one was decided by two or fewer runs, and a couple of bad hops could have put the Minutewomen at a paltry 1-4 record for the weekend. Consistency, Henderson says, is the way to mitigate these potential bad breaks.

“We have to keep improving to get our offense to start clicking,” Henderson said. “Producing more runs, if we could get [the offense] going, we’re going to be in a really good spot.”

As it often happens at the beginning of a season, offenses are slow to get going while pitching dominates. That’s not to say that UMass didn’t have strong offensive performances. Chloe Whittier notched her first three-hit game of the season on Sunday in the Minutewomen’s win against North Dakota. Whittier would finish the tournament with eight hits across 18 at-bats, good for a .444 batting average.

Shortstop Bella Pantoja was another who had a strong offensive weekend, hitting the only homerun of the tournament for UMass in its win against Charleston Southern. Pantoja has already matched her homerun total from last year, as she didn’t notch a homerun after Feb. 12. Whittier led the team in RBI on the weekend with three, while four players were tied for second with two RBI.

The Minutewomen have about a week and a half before heading down to Florida State for the Florida state tournament, beginning on March 3. They will face Georgia Southern, Colgate and No.6 Florida State. First pitch on March 3 is scheduled for 12:15 p.m.

Johnny Depin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Jdepin101.

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