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 splits wins with ECU and Norfolk State

Last non-conference tournament ends in an even 2-2 record
Dylan Nguyen / Daily Collegian (2022)

The Massachusetts softball team swapped wins with each of its two opponents at the Purple-Gold  Invitational, finishing the weekend with a 2-2 record.

After a losing record last weekend at Florida State, the Minutewomen (7-11) were able to notch a win against both teams (East Carolina University and Norfolk State University) they played this weekend. UMass’ wins each came with a loss from those same opponents as well.

The last game of the tournament against Norfolk State concluded on Sunday, with the Mintuewomen losing 13-5. This game had a similar scoreboard to the previous game between the two squads on Saturday night, except with roles reversed. UMass picked up its second and final win of the tournament against Norfolk State, winning 17-7.

The Spartans came out strong in their second game against UMass, scoring more than half their runs in the first four innings. During this successful period for Norfolk State, the Minutewomen remained scoreless. UMass put up five runs in the fourth but this effort was not enough to gain momentum.

Consistency throughout the tournament from senior outfielder Jules Shields was key to the Minutewomen’s game. Shields left this weekend with seven hits combined in three out of the four games played and a season high four hits in the first match-up against Norfolk State. In that same game, Shields added four RBI, another season high. Both were accomplished in just five innings.

“She was making very good contact and she looked in control. Even if she wasn’t going to be getting a hit, you knew she was going to have a good at-bat,” head coach Danielle Henderson said of Shield’s performance.

The Minutewomen  started and ended with losses, but their strength was shown in between those games. After losing 8-1 against host team East Carolina University in the first game of the weekend, UMass turned its luck around with a 4-3 win the next day against the Pirates. All the Minutewomen’s four runs were scored in the fourth inning, just enough to put ECU away.

Junior Abby Packard was a difference maker in this contest against the Pirates, adding two hits and two RBIs. Despite all three of ECU’s runs being earned by Jessie DiPasquale, she completed the full seven innings of the game, while adding 5 strikeouts.

Almost every run the UMass pitching staff allowed this weekend was earned with only one run scored by its opponents this weekend being unearned. However, the offense was there to pick up the slack. Carrying over their offensive strength from last weekend, the Minutewomen had many batters chip in over the course of this tournament.

Notably in the high-scoring win over Norfolk State, UMass had three players with more than two hits: Shields, Giana Wameling and Chloe Whittier. Grace Cadden had one hit, but it was just as important. In the third inning, Cadden bombed a homer to left center, receiving two RBI in the process. With all members contributing, especially offensively, it becomes easier for the Minutewomen to get ahead.

“It seems more confident,” Henderson said. “We know we’re going to get on, and we’re going to hit somebody and score runs.”

Henderson says confidence is a key lesson to learn and improve upon as the Minutewomen near conference play.

Next up for UMass are the Providence Friars, who bested them earlier in the season at the Charleston Southern Tournament. The Minutewomen play on Wednesday at Glay Field. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Rachel Toth can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @RachelToth46.

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