Graham Hays of ESPN.com has his weekly preview of softball around the country and has a couple of UMass mentions. He has Saturday's game at No. 1 Alabama listed in his Games to Watch This Weekend and in his Player of the Year sidebar, mentions UMass senior right-hander Sara Plourde. In saying her stock is rising, he references her strong game against No. 12 Michigan last weekend when she struck out 16 in leading the Minutewomen to a 1-0 victory. He goes on to mention her 16 Ks in his By the Numbers segment.
Alabama has already faced some good mid-major pitching this season, including North Dakota State's Whitney Johnson, Memphis' Carly Hummel and Lipscomb's Whitney Kiihnl, but UMass ace Sara Plourde is as good a power pitcher as they will face all season, in or out of conference.
Stock up: There were some special pitching performances in Cathedral City, but one of the best of the weekend came on the other side of the country in the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Florida. Pitching her second game of the day, Plourde allowed just two hits and struck out 16 in a 1-0 win against Michigan. The senior's overall numbers are still modest for a mid-major award hopeful (4-4, 2.17 ERA), but 83 strikeouts in 51.2 innings will keep her in the debate.
16: Massachusetts senior pitcher Sara Plourde struck out a season-high 16 batters in a 1-0 win against Michigan Friday, making it the first time the Wolverines had been shut out since a May 27, 2010 super regional loss to Tennessee. Plourde showed no letup in her next start, striking out 15 in a no-hitter against Georgia Tech.