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 loses final home game of 2023 softball season

Minutewomen plate one run
Kalina Kornacki/Daily Collegian (2023)

In a game that reflected what much of the season has been like for the Massachusetts softball team, it lost 6-1 against Merrimack in the final game played at Sortino Field in the 2023 season. The Minutewomen (15-32, 6-16 Atlantic 10) fell behind early on and were unable to mount a comeback despite threatening the Warriors (16-27, 11-9 Northeast Conference) several times in the latter innings.

One of these opportunities came in the bottom of the sixth, when UMass got runners on first and second with one out in the inning. A fielder’s choice and a popout would snuff out the Minutewomen’s flame in that half inning, but they came roaring back with a two out rally once again in the latter half of the seventh.

Jules Shields was the catalyst behind the rally in the seventh, drawing a walk after fouling off pitch after pitch against Merrimack relief pitcher Katelyn Thompson. Another walk from Abby Packard gave UMass almost the exact same situation as it had in the previous inning, with runners on first and second with two out. The result also remained the same, with the Minutewomen leaving the inning empty handed.

Shields energized UMass’ offense all afternoon, going 3-3 with three singles in addition to the walk. Shields’ consistency was apparent this season for the Minutewomen, with her average sitting above .300 for the entirety of the season. Shields showed pop in her bat as well, sitting at two home runs as the season comes to its conclusion.

“[Shields] did great [Wednesday], she’s been hitting well for us,” head coach Danielle Henderson said.

Bella Pantoja drove in the lone run for UMass, reaching on an error after Chloe Whittier drew a walk. The Minutewomen’s run total does not accurately reflect the production on the offensive side of the ball, as they racked up six hits to the Warriors’ nine. They left 12 runners on base, squandering several opportunities when the base paths were clogged.

“I thought that our at-bats were good,” Henderson said. “If we kept the approach we had to get on base, we would have been able to push a couple [of runs] through.”

Jessie DiPasquale got the nod for UMass on Wednesday and started the afternoon strong, striking out eight batters in her first three innings. The top of the fifth inning is when the wheels began to fall off for DiPasquale, as she was pulled after allowing two runs without recording an out in the fifth. She finished with four innings pitched, allowing four earned runs, six hits while striking out nine.

Jenna Bradley came in relief of DiPasquale and didn’t fare much better, allowing two runs in the top of the seventh, effectively nipping the win in the bud for Merrimack, giving it a five run lead with three outs remaining. Bradley allowed three hits and two earned runs in her three innings pitched.

Defense has been an area of struggle for UMass for the entirety of the season, but it played a clean game on Wednesday. After a weekend against George Washington where it committed four errors, it cleaned itself up on Wednesday, committing no errors in the loss.

The Minutewomen are next in action on Friday, May 5, taking on George Mason in Fairfax Va. The two games on Friday are the beginning of the final regular season series for UMass, with the third game taking place on Saturday. First pitch for game one on Friday is scheduled for 3 p.m, while first pitch of game two is tentatively scheduled for 5 p.m.

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

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