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

Softball Notebook: UMass loses three straight to open conference play

The Minutewomen commit three errors in three games
Maya Geer/ Daily Collegian (2022)

In a weekend that saw the beginning of conference play, the Massachusetts softball team was swept by Saint Joseph’s, three games to none. The Minutewomen (7-14, 0-3 Atlantic 10) never quite found their footing in the series, holding leads for an inning or two before the opposition stormed back, finding themselves in a hole that was too difficult to dig themselves out of.

This was evident in Sunday’s contest, when the Hawks (11-11, 3-0 A-10) took an early lead in the bottom of the second with a two-out single to right field, scoring the runner on third. UMass answered right back with a two-spot of its own in the top of the fourth off an Abby Packard single that scored both Bella Pantoja and Jordyn Graime.

It seemed as soon as the Minutewomen started to build momentum, Saint Joseph’s responded. The Hawks scored four runs in the bottom half of the fourth. For the majority of the weekend, the UMass pitching staff didn’t get any favors from the seven behind them. The Minutewomen earned 10 of the 14 total runs from over the weekend, good for 71 percent. They didn’t reap the benefits of poor fielding like their opposition was, with only one of their seven runs being unearned.

UMass attempted a comeback in the top of the fifth, scoring two runs to pull within one off the back of a Pantoja homer that scored herself and Chloe Whittier. Pantoja has doubled her home run total from last season. The comeback attempt was all for nothing with the Hawks holding on to the win, 5-4.

Saturday’s second game wasn’t as thrilling as Sunday’s matinee, with UMass taking a first inning lead, once again off the bat of Pantoja, this time a double to right field where Giana Wameling scored. The Minutewomen held their lead until the bottom of the fourth, the only lead they held for the entirety of the weekend.

Saint Joseph’s put up three runs in the fourth, before Jules Shields homered to dead center field, giving UMass a fighting chance heading into the later stages of the game. The Hawks scored four more runs over the next two innings, putting the Minutewomen in a five-run hole to start the top of the seventh.

After a pop-out to start the inning, UMass loaded the bases with just one out. Shields grounded a ball to the left side, scoring Wameling but resulting in a fielder’s choice at third. Another ball hit in the infield nailed the coffin for the Minutewomen, as they lost 7-3.

It was a pitcher’s duel to open the series, with two solo home runs determining the outcome of the game. Starting pitcher Jessie DiPasquale went seven strong, allowing five hits in addition to the solo shots. Saint Joseph’s Emily Siler was one batter away from a no-hitter, pitching a shutout and keeping the Minutewomen bats at bay to preserve her team’s small lead. The Hawks won 2-0 in the first game on Saturday.

DiPasquale has been nothing short of excellent to start the season, pitching to the tune of a 4.23 ERA in the early stages of the season. Her ERA is almost a full run lower than what it was at this point last season when she had a 5.18 ERA to enter conference play.

UMass is next in action on March 22, taking on UMass Lowell with first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. History exists between the two schools, as head coach Danielle Henderson was the skipper for Lowell before reuniting with the school where she built her legacy as a player.

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

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