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 falls in back-and-forth matchup to regional rival UConn

Minutewomen defense shines as the offense continues to struggle
Devin Lippman
Julianne Bolton pitches the ball at Sortino Field on 4/7/24.

Despite a late comeback attempt, the Massachusetts softball team fell to the UConn Huskies 5-3 at home on Wednesday afternoon.

The Minutewomen (12-27, 8-7 Atlantic 10) struggled offensively throughout the game as they were outhit by the Huskies (23-19, 10-5 Big East). UMass left eight runners on base, many of those runners coming from five hit-by-pitch walks issued by the UConn pitching staff. The UMass pitching staff added to the struggle as both Julianne Bolton and Natalee Horton allowed a combined six walks.

After UConn put the eventual nail in the coffin with an unearned run by Lauren Benson in the top of the seventh inning, the run was from a misthrow to first base by UMass’ Horton that clanked off the side of first base. The Minutewomen failed to capitalize on a golden opportunity for a potential game-tying or game-winning run. With the bases loaded after three walks, two coming from hit-by-pitches from the Huskies’ Meghan O’Neil, Jenna Bradley struck out swinging to end the hopes of the Minutewomen.

“I thought it was a close game as it would have come down to just one pitch,” head coach Danielle Henderson said. “It could have been our game.”

Abby Packard was the lone bright spot for the Minutewomen as she made an impact on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. In the fourth inning, Packard made a spectacular play with runners on second and third base for the Huskies as she leaped up and snagged a line drive from UConn’s Kaitlyn Kibling, preventing the runners from advancing off a sacrifice bunt. Packard made a similar play with one out, snatching a line drive out of the air to take a hit away from the Huskies. Packard came up clutch offensively, as well as hitting a two-run shot in the sixth inning to cut the UConn lead to 4-3.

“Abby [Packard] made some great plays and she had a heck of a game at the plate,” Henderson said.

The Minutewomen struggled to read pitches at the plate, striking out 11 times and could not consistently put pressure on the Huskies’ pitchers.

“The first pitcher threw a lot of change ups so we were trying to adjust and hit that,” Henderson said. “Grace [Cadden] was able to do that and Abby [Packard] went up there with her own plan, looking for a pitch to be able to hit it. Those were some big hits for us.”

The Minutewomen head back into conference play this weekend as they will hit the road for a three-game series against Loyola Chicago, starting with a doubleheader on Sat., April 20. First pitch is set for noon.

“We have to adjust to the changeup and be able to hit that,” Henderson said. “We are going to see a pitcher like that this weekend [in Chicago] so if we can take what happened today and learn from it, we will be in good shape.”

Benito Marinero-Rodriguez can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @bmrodriguez12.

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