No. 23 Softball Falls Twice At Blue & Gold Classic
March 15, 2003
MIAMI, Fla. - The 23rd-ranked University of Massachusetts softball team (9-9) committed seven errors as it dropped two games in the second day of action at the Blue & Gold Classic. In game one, the Minutewomen lost to No. 7 California. Then in game two, UMass' bid for a dramatic seventh inning comeback fell just short as it fell to host-school Florida International, 3-2.
Playing at 9:00 a.m. for the second straight day, things got off to a shaky start for Massachusetts as senior pitcher Kaila Holtz (North Vancouver, British Columbia) served up a long two-run home run to Courtney Scott putting No. 7 Cal up 2-0 in the first inning. The Minutewomen offense got going in the top of the third when they scored four times. Senior Anna Perey (Chino Valley, Ariz.) led off the inning with a bunt single. After an out was recorded, Perey stole second and then scored the first UMass runn of the day when junior Aisha Franke (Philadelphia, Pa.) doubled to left-center field. Senior Emily Robustelli (Stamford, Conn.) followed with a single, sending Franke over to third. Sophomore Hilary Puglia (Stoneham, Mass.) then walked loading the bases for senior Brandi Cross (Diamond Bar, Calif.). Cross ripped a double to right field scoring two runs and giving UMass its first lead of the game at 3-2. The fourth run scored later that evening when freshman KJ Kelley (Rainier, Ore.) got in a run-down between first and second, allowing Cross to steal home. She crossed the plate prior to Kelley being tagged out to end the inning.
The Golden Bears got one of the runs back in the bottom of the third inning, but scored three times in the bottom of the fifth to pull back ahead for good. With one out and runners at the corners, Holtz forced Eryn Manaham to hit a comebacker to the mound, but Holtz threw the ball by Cross at first allowing the tying run to score. Jessica Parmanian then grounded out to Kelley at third which would have been the inning's final out, but Kaleo Eldredge made the Minutewomen pay with a two-out, two-RBI single down the left-field line to put Cal up 6-4.
Holtz (4-5) finished the game allowing eight hits and six runs, but just two were earned. She walked three and struck out one.
In game two, Florida International scored one run apiece in the first, fifth and sixth innings and held off a furious Minutewomen come-back attempt in the bottom of the seventh for the win. UMass waited until the seventh inning before the offense woke up and it nearly overcame a three-run deficit.
Cross got things started with a long home run that went well beyond the right-center field fence. Holtz then followed with a bloop single down the right-field line. Freshman pinch-runner Kristi Stefanoni (Columbus, N.J.) moved to second base on a wild pitch, but junior Nicole Wilson (Gaithersburg, Md.) struck out swinging for the inning's first out. Stefanoni scooted over to third base on a ground out by Kelley, but there were now two outs in the inning. Perey followed with a sharp single up the middle driving in Stefanoni and getting UMass back within a run at 3-2. After Perey stole second, senior pinch-hitter Jessica Bartlett (Turners Falls, Mass.) worked the count full and eventually drew a walk after fighting off several tough pitches with two strikes to keep the rally alive. Franke then followed with an infield single to load the bases for Robustelli. The ball was hit in the hole between short stop and third, but the FIU short stop fielded the ball clean and threw a strike across the field to just nip Robustelli at first and end the rally.
Sophomore Kelli Arnold (Kalama, Wash.) took the tough loss for UMass, allowing just one earned run and four hits in seven innings. She walked just one, while striking out four batters. She is now 4-4 this season.
UMass will close out the tournament tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. by playing in the third-place game. Its opponent will be determined by the outcomes of games tonight.