UMASS RETURNS TO ACTION TO BATTLE HIGH-CALIBER FIELD AT NFCA LEADOFF CLASSIC
After going 3-2 to open the season at the FIU Combat Classic two weeks ago, the Massachusetts softball team returns to the Sunshine State for the NFCA Leadoff Classic, held at the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex in Clearwater, Fla. The Minutewomen's five-game slate begins on Friday with games against DePaul at 1 p.m. and Michigan at 6 p.m. On Saturday, UMass will face Georgia Tech at 1 p.m. and Illinois at 6 p.m. Play concludes on Sunday with a 12:30 p.m. tilt against Tennessee.
The Moore Complex features nine field over three complexes, so fans will want to double check which field the Minutewomen are scheduled to play each game. A detailed map can be downloaded at www.usfseries.com.
Friday, 1 p.m. vs DePaul Field 9 Complex 3
Friday, 6 p.m. vs Michigan Field 2 Complex 1
Saturday, 1 p.m. vs Georgia Tech Field 4 Complex 1
Saturday, 6 p.m. vs Illinois Field 8 Complex 3
Sunday, 12:30 p.m. vs Tennessee Field 8 Complex 3
Live stats will be available at UMassAthletics.com by clicking on the GameTracker links. Postgame interviews with head coach Elaine Sortino and selected student-athletes will also be available following each day's action. A live blog will also be conducted when time permits.
UMass will be making its 14th apearance in the Leadoff Classic and its first since 2010.
Four of UMass' five opponents this week - DePaul, Michigan, Georgia Tech and Tennessee - participated in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Head Coach Elaine Sortino is in her 33rd season at UMass with a 1,132-472-6 (.705) overall record. The 2004 NFCA Hall of Fame inductee ranks fifth among active Division I head coaches in wins and has guided the Minutewomen to 22 Atlantic 10 championships, 20 NCAA Tournaments and three Women's College World Series appearances.
UMass is coming off a 2011 campaign in which the Minutewomen finished with a 29-19 overall record and were second in the A-10 at 14-5. Sara Plourde (1st), Cyndil Matthew (2nd), Kyllie Magill (HM) and Lindsey Webster (HM) were named to the A-10s all-conference squad, with Plourde adding league Pitcher of the Year honors as well. Plourde was also named to a pair of All-America teams - second team by Easton and third team by the NFCA.
UMass Making 14th Leadoff Classic Appearance
UMass is participating in the NFCA Leadoff Classic for the 14th time since 1996. Each of their previous 13 showings came in Columbus, Ga. The Minutewomen are 28-35 all-time in the event.
UMass Making Florida Trips A Habit
Not only did UMass open the season in Florida, it will play its first 10 games and 17 of its first 22 in the nation's 27th state. For the year, the 17 Florida games are second only to the 19 scheduled contests in Massachusetts - 17 at the UMass Softball Complex and one each at Boston College and Boston University.
Including the season-opening trip to Miami two weeks ago, UMass has traveled to Florida for a total of nine events since the 2008 season, compiling an overall record of 30-14 (.682).
UMass Team Analysis
UMass returns 15 letterwinners, eight position starters and all three pitchers from last season's squad that went 29-19 overall and 14-5 in the Atlantic 10.
All four of the Minutewomen who earned all-conference a year ago return in RHP Sara Plourde, 2B Kyllie Magill, OF Cyndill Matthew and OF Lindsey Webster.
The 2012 squad consists of five seniors, four juniors, six sophomores and five freshman. The 22-member team hails from 11 different states, with the majority coming from Massachusetts (7), California (2), Connecticut (2) and New Hampshire. UMass also has one player each from Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
Mayne, Plourde Pick Up Atlantic 10 Player, Pitcher of the Week Awards
Massachusetts' battery of catcher Stephanie Mayne and pitcher Sara Plourde were named the Atlantic 10 Conference Softball Player and Pitcher of the Week, respectively, the league office announced on Monday.
Mayne, the senior from North Reading, Mass., helped lead Massachusetts to a runner-up finish at the FIU Combat Classic with a record of 3-2. She batted .364 (4-11) for the weekend, with a home run and two RBI. Mayne also posted an on-base percentage of .562 with a .727 slugging percentage in picking up her first career POW award.
Plourde, the senior from Bristol, Conn., went 2-2 while allowing only five earned runs over 27.2 innings pitched. En route to pitching four complete games over the weekend, Plourde struck out 42 batters and had three starts in which she struck out more than 10 batters in each outing. This marks Plourde's 10th all-time Pitcher of the Week honor, to go along with a pair of Rookie of the Week nods in 2009.
UMass Picked Second In A-10 Preseason Poll
UMass has been predicted to finish second in the 2012 Atlantic 10 Championship in polling of the conference coaches. Head Coach Elaine Sortino's Minutewomen have won the six of the last seven A-10 titles, 15 of the last 17, and 22 overall. Fordham, the 2011 champion, was predicted to repeat with Saint Joseph's in third.
Charlotte was predicted fourth, followed by Temple, Dayton, Saint Louis, George Washington, St. Bonaventure, Rhode Island and La Salle.
The six-team, double-elimination A-10 Championship will be held May 9-12 at the Billiken Sports Center in St. Louis, Mo.
The 4-1-1 on Sara Plourde
Senior All-American pitcher Sara Plourde looks to continue the dominating form that has made her one of the most efficient pitchers in the country over the past two seasons.
She established herself as one of the nation's top pitchers in 2010, posting a 40-8 record with a 1.30 ERA. She followed that up with a 2011 campaign that saw her go 27-15 with another 1.30 ERA.
Plourde led the country in strikeouts in 2010 with 556, the highest single-season total in UMass history and ninth-highest in NCAA history. She broke Danielle Henderson's UMass mark of 465 by 91 Ks. She again led the NCAA in Ks in 2011 with 498.
In 2010 she led the country in strikeouts per seven innings (12.5) and tied National Player of the Year Danielle Lawrie of Washington for the nation's lead in wins (40). She broke Brandice Balschmiter's UMass single-season wins record of 35. She ranked second in 2011 in strikeouts per seven innings at 11.8.
Among the list of awards she has collected include being named NFCA All-American twice, NFCA All-Region twice, A-10 Pitcher of the Year twice, ECAC Pitcher of the Year, A-10 All-Conference twice, ECAC All-Star, A-10 All-Championship Team and was named A-10 Pitcher of the Week 10 times in the past two seasons.
As she enters her senior season, she is poised to make a run at a number of UMass and NCAA career records.
UMASS RECORD BOOK
1. 1343 Danielle Henderson 1996-99
2. 1218 Brandice Balschmiter 2006-09
3. 1163 Sara Plourde 2009-pr.
Strikeouts/7 inn game (min. 200 IP)
1. 11.96 Sara Plourde (656.1 IP) 2009-pr.
2. 9.80 Danielle Henderson (959.2 IP) 1996-99
3. 7.83 Brandice Balschmiter (1089.0 IP) 2006-09
1. 178 Brandice Balschmiter 2006-09
2. 128 Danielle Henderson 1996-99
3. 125 Kelly Daut 1992,92-95
4. 124 Holly Aprile 1989-92
5. 110 Kaila Holtz 2000-03
6. 109 Sara Plourde 2009-pr.
1. 126 Brandice Balschmiter (126-33) 2006-09
2. 108 Danielle Henderson (108-35) 1996-99
3. 77 Holly Aprile (77-33) 1989-92
4. 75 Sara Plourde (75-26) 2009-pr.
75 Kaila Holtz (75-24) 2000-03
Most games started
1. 153 Brandice Balschmiter 2006-09
2. 105 Danielle Henderson 1996-99
3. 104 Kelly Daut 1992,92-95
4. 101 Sara Plourde 2009-pr.
101 Holly Aprile 1989-92
Her 1,163 career strikeouts put her 42 shy of breaking into the top 30 of the NCAA all-time. list. UMass alums Danielle Henderson sits in 15th place while Brandice Balschmiter is currently 29th all-time.
By leading the country in strikeouts for the second time a year ago, Plourde became just the six player in NCAA history to do so twice in a career, joining Monica Abbott (Tennessee), Cat Osterman (Texas), Danielle Henderson (UMass), Trinity Johnson (South Carolina) and Michele Granger (California). Only Osterman and Granger have led the nation in Ks three or more years, both doing so all four years of their eligibility.
The Nation Is Watching
The Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America has named UMass junior pitcher Sara Plourde to its initial "Watch List" for the 11th Annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award. The two-time All-American and 2010 A-10 Pitcher of the Year is one of 50 players nationwide to be named to the list.
This marks the sixth-consecutive year that a UMass player has been named to the Preseason Watch List. Plourde, who also earned the nod a year ago, joins Carly Normandin (2010), Brandice Balschmiter (2007-09) and Whitney Mollica (2007) as Minutewomen that have garnered the distinction.
The 2012 Pre-Season Watch List includes 23 seniors, 20 juniors and seven sophomores. It is comprised of 50 players representing 31 schools and 13 different NCAA Division I Conferences with the Big 12 and the Pac-12 Conferences leading the way with six schools represented. Along with Plourde, Jen Mineau of Fordham was also on the list, giving the Atlantic 10 Conference a pair of honorees.
The ASA will announce the 25 finalists on April 11. A player does not have to appear on this initial watch list to be considered as a top 25 finalist. However, once the top 25 finalists are named the winner of the award will come from that list. Freshmen qualify for the top 25 list once they have competed at the collegiate level.
Sortino Fourth Among Active NCAA Division I Coaches
The following charts show where UMass head coach Elaine Sortino ranks among the active NCAA Division I Coaching Records entering the 2012 season.
BY VICTORIES Years Victories
1. Margie Wright, Fresno State 32 1,421
2. Mike Candrea, Arizona 24 1,272
3. Carol Hutchins, Michigan 28 1,232
4. Elaine Sortino, UMass 32 1,129
5. Eugene Lenti, DePaul 30 1,102
BY WINNING PCT. Years W-L-T Pct.
1. Mike Candrea, Arizona 24 1272-277-2 .821
15. Sharon Perkins, Georgia Tech 5 228-85-0 .728
16. Deanna Gumpf, Notre Dame 10 425-176-1 .707
17. Elaine Sortino, UMass 32 1129-470-6 .705
18. Gordon Eakin, BYU 9 371-160-0 .699
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2012 Season Tickets Now On Sale
2012 UMass Softball Season Tickets are on sale now! The 22-time Atlantic 10 Champions are primed for another successful season in 2012 and the Minutewomen look forward to you joining them at the UMass Softball Complex for their 17 home games on 14 dates. Tickets can be ordered by calling 866-UMASS-TIX or by visiting the ticket page at UMassAthletics.com.
UMass softball season tickets are once again the best deal around, with plans ranging from $26 to $70 - that works out to between $1.52 and $4.17 per game! Purchasing softball season tickets also earns you Priority Points towards other UMass season tickets, including basketball, football, and hockey.