Minutewomen Light Up Scoreboard In 8-0 NCAA Tourney Win Over Cornell
May 15, 2009
AMHERST, Mass. - Behind Brandice Balschmiter's 21st shutout of the season and a balanced offensive attack, the UMass softball team opened up NCAA Tournament play with an 8-0 win over Cornell on Friday in the first-ever night game at the UMass Softball Complex. Samantha Salato belted her 17th home run of the season to extend her own single-season record while Whitney Mollica went 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored. The Minutewomen advance to face Washington, who defeated Sacred Heart 9-1 earlier in the day. That game is scheduled for Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Three straight extra base hits in the bottom of the third inning, by Carly Normandin, Whitney Williams, and Mollica, started the scoring as the Minutewomen never looked back. Mollica's two RBI bring her career total to 151, only two shy of UMass career record-holder KJ Kelley.
The win marked the first NCAA Tournament shutout win since May 13, 1996 when UMass topped Marist, 8-0. It was also the first time the Minutewomen mercy ruled an opponent in the tournament since that same game.
Balschmiter pitched six innings, allowing four hits to go along with nine strikeouts. The win tied her own school record of wins in a single season with 32. Jessica Serio also had a multi-hit night, finishing 2-for-3 with a run scored.
The Minutewomen dodged a bullet with one out in the top of the third inning when a suicide squeeze attempt with Cassie Walisiak at the plate was unsuccessful. With the bases loaded, pinch runner Katie Watts was gunned down at third by Serio after Walisiak made an offer at the pitch. Balschmiter then struck out the Cornell left fielder to end the threat.
UMass took advantage of Cornell's missed opportunity with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Williams drove in the first run with a long double to straightaway center field, scoring Normandin, who preceded with a triple to left-center field. Mollica then lined a double to left-center, plating Normandin to make it 2-0.
A two-run home run from Salato in the bottom of the fifth inning gave UMass a 4-0 advantage. Mollica began the rally with an infield single and caught pitcher Elizabeth Dalrymple off guard by stealing second base. Salato got ahead in the count 3-0 and was given the green light by head coach Elaine Sortino, who was coaching her 1,500th career game.
Back-to-back RBI singles from Mollica and Sarah Reeves plated Serio and Williams to make it 6-0. Salato reached on an error to load the bases and Audrey Boutin drew a bases loaded walk for the 7-0 score. The game ended when Kyllie Magill drew another walk for the 8-0 final.