April 28, 2012
UMass has won a season-best 11-consecutive games, 17 of its last 18 and 22 of its last 26. The Minutewomen are 10-0 at home and 7-0 in A-10 home contests. UMass is 8-3 in true road games and 6-0 in A-10 road contests following their doubleheader sweep at George Washington two weekends ago.
The Minutewomen are the hitting .285 as a team, first in the A-10 this year, and boast six players hitting at .260 or better. Elsewhere in the league UMass is first in slugging pct. (.434), on-base pct. (.378), second in batters hit-by-pitch (39), third in RBI (176), runs (185) and steals (51).
Leading the charge are the top two in the batting order, junior OF Cyndil Matthew (.424-0-13) and freshman SS Quianna Diaz-Patterson (.367-4-34). QDP had a 12-game hitting streak earlier this season which is the longest by a Minutewoman, while her current 18-game streak of reach base is tied for the longest this year.
Senior All-America Sara Plourde is 27-9 with a 2.06 earned run average and leads the nation in strikeouts for the third-consecutive year with 420. She also has 33 complete games, 10 shutouts and six of her 15 career no-hitters this season. She tossed her second-career solo perfect game at St. Bonaventure and the 13th in school history. She is also hitting .322 with eight HR and 24 RBI.
Charlotte had won nine consecutive conference games prior to an 11-inning loss at Rhode Island on Saturday. The 49ers have won 12 of their last 14 games overall, including an impressive 10-6 victory over 20th-ranked North Carolina Tuesday at home.
Briana Gwaltney leads the 49ers and the Atlantic 10 with a record 14 home runs on the year. Batting .338, she also leads the team with 48 hits, 37 runs scored and 40 RBI. Rookie Alex Rogers is first on the squad in batting average, hitting .341 with a team-high 35 walks. She ranks third in the A-10 in on-base percentage at .477. Fellow freshman Jackie Kleinsmith is also strong at the plate, hitting .292 with four doubles and two homers. Junior Kalie Lang has a team-best 10 doubles on the year.
In the circle, freshman Lexi Betancourt (14-10; 2.91 ERA) and sophomore Katie Watkins (11-10; 4.16 ERA) have split time, combining for 208 strikeouts.
Series With Charlotte
UMass leads the series 13-3, including a 7-1 margin in Amherst. The Minutewomen have won seven-consecutive at the UMass Softball Complex over the 49ers.
The teams split last season's games in Charlotte on the A-10 opening weekend. UMass got a solo home run from Audrey Boutin
in the second inning while Sara Plourde
struck out eight and got out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh to preserve the victory. The 49ers claimed the second game of the series, 3-2 in 14 innings. It was the second-longest game in UM softball history, just shy of the record 15-inning contest against Washington in the 2009 NCAA Amherst Regional.
The last time the teams played in Amherst in 2010, Plourde no-hit the 49ers in the first game, striking out 13 and allowed just one base runner on a walk, in a 3-0 UMass win. Katie Bettencourt
was 2-for-2 with a home run and a double. The following day, UMass completed the sweep with a 5-1 win. Plourde struck out 17 in a three-hitter, while Meghan Carta
drove in two runs and Carly Normandin
was 2-for-3 with two runs scored. The Minutewomen and 49ers met again in the A-10 Tournament, with UMass winning an elimination game, 9-4, to move on to the finals on May 14. Normandin, Kyllie Magill
, and Sarah Reeves
combined for eight hits, five RBIs and three runs scored.
UMass Top 3 Batters Helping To Lead A-10
UMass' top three hitters in the lineup - Cyndil Matthew, Quianna Diaz-Patterson and Katie Bettencourt - have done their part to put the Minutewomen atop the Atlantic 10 in team batting in league games at .355, 30 points higher than Fordham. In fact, Diaz-Patterson is second in A-10 games with a .488 avg., Matthew is third at .447 and Bettencourt is eighth at .378. Matthew is first in runs scored and stolen bases, while Diaz-Patterson is second in hits and tied for first in RBI. Sara Plourde is tied for the league lead in HR, RBI and in strikeouts by a pitcher.
Minuttewomen Strong On 'D'
UMass has been very solid on defense during its current 12-game winning streak. In fact, the Minutewomen lead the A-10 in league games with a .989 fielding pct and have committed just three errors. UMass has not made a miscue in 11 of 13 A-10 contests. The Minutewomen have been clean in the field over their past seven games.
And Then There Was One
Entering the week, UMass is the only unbeaten in Atlantic 10 play at 13-0. UMass is the only school to have completed the regular-season undefeated, having done so eight times in the 29-year history of A-10 softball. The last occurance came two seasons ago with a 17-0-1 mark.
UMass Perfect At Home
Following Thursday's shutout win over Fairfield, UMass improved to 10-0 at home on the season. The Minutewomen are one of just six schools out of 289 at the Division I level who are still unbeaten in their home park. The others are Louisiana-Lafayette (24-0), Louisville (24-0), Texas Southern (16-0), Nebraska (13-0) and Boise State (13-0).
UMass has been perfect at home six times in program history with the last time coming nine years ago when the 2003 squad went 18-0. The 2010 team went 13-0 in the regular season at home before losing once in the A-10 Tournament and twice in the NCAA Amherst Regional - both of which were played at the UMass Softball Complex.
UMass Bat/Ball & Stick/Ball Sports Dominating Conference Play
While the UMass softball team has a 13-0 mark in Atlantic 10 play thus far, some other spring sports are dominating their league competition as well. Following Sunday's sweep of Rhody, UMass softball, men's lacrosse (6-0 in CAA), women's lacrosse (7-0 in A-10) and baseball (8-6 in A-10) are a combined 34-6 in conference play for an .850 winning pct.
Matthew Near The Top Of Atlantic 10 Rankings
UMass junior OF Cyndil Matthew has been on a tear this season. She enters the week leading the A-10 in batting avg. (.424 - 49 points more than second), on-base pct. (.504) and runs (47), while ranking second in steals (26). She also leads the team with 15 multi-hit games and collected a career-high four hits against Maryland (3/2) and Chattanooga (3/17) this season.
`Q' Delivers In The Clutch
There's no denying the impact Quianna Diaz-Patterson has made on the UMass team this season. The freshman from Amherst Regional HS has stepped right in and produced form the get-go. She has started all 39 games at shortstop and currently is tied for or leads the team in RBI (35), doubles (12) and triples (2). Of her 35 RBI, 19 have come with 2 outs.
Plourde Named Top 25 Finalist For USA Softball Player of the Year Award
Massachusetts senior Sara Plourde was named one of the Top 25 Finalists for the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America announced Tuesday. The winner will be announced at the opening of the 2012 NCAA Women's College World Series (WCWS) in Oklahoma City.
Plourde, a two-time All-America selection from Bristol, Conn., currently leads the nation in strikeouts (304), strikeouts per seven innings (12.7) and fewest hits allowed per seven innings (2.88). She has also held opponents to a nation's best .121 batting average in 168.0 innings this season.
Plourde Selected Ninth In National Pro Fastpitch Draft
UMass senior Sara Plourde was selected ninth overall by the Carolina Diamonds in the 2012 National Pro Fastpitch Draft on March 8.
National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Hermitage, Tenn. The league, created to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names Women's Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women's Pro Softball League (WPSL).
Due to NCAA regulations, an active college senior-athlete is not eligible to sign with their respective franchise until her 2012 season is completed.
A-10 Game Officials Honor Nick Cinquanto
The Atlantic 10 Conference softball umpires and women's basketball officials will honor former coordinator and observer Nick Cinquanto by wearing a commemorative black patch during A-10 games this season. Cinquanto passed away Sunday, January 22.
Cinquanto, who served as the Conference's Coordinator of Soccer and Softball Officials and as a women's basketball officials observer, spent 20 years in various capacities with the Atlantic 10. He began his career with the league evaluating officials in 1988.