Softball

 
UMass Closes Regular-Season at Fordham & La Salle With A-10 Title On The Line




May 3, 2012

The Massachusetts softball team closes out the regular-season this weekend with a trip to Fordham and La Salle this weekend. The Minutewomen will face the Rams on Friday at 3 p.m. and Saturday at Noon before meeting the Explorers on Sunday in a doubleheader at Noon.

Live video will be provided for both Fordham games via the links at UMassAthletics.com. Live stats will be available for all four games at UMassAthletics.com by clicking on the GameTracker links. Postgame interviews with coaches and selected student-athletes will also be available following the conclusion of each day’s play. All four games this weekend will be broadcast online at UMassAthletics.com via SportsJuice.com.

Scouting UMass
 UMass has won a season-best 15-consecutive games, 20 of its last 21 and 25 of its last 29. The Minutewomen are 13-0 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. UMass has won nine-straight A-10 road games and has not been swept by a league foe on the road in seven years.
 The Minutewomen are hitting .285 as a team, first in the A-10, and boast six players hitting at .260 or better. Elsewhere in the league UMass is first in slugging pct. (.443), on-base pct. (.376), triples (8), opponent batting avg. (.158) and batters struck out (458). The team is second in RBI (192) and batters hit-by-pitch (41), while ranking third in RBI (176).
 Leading the charge are the top two in the batting order, junior OF Cyndil Matthew (.408-0-15) and freshman SS Quianna Diaz-Patterson (.377-4-39). QDP had a 12-game hitting streak earlier this season which is the longest by a Minutewoman, while her current 21-game streak of reaching base is the longest this year, followed closely by Matthew’s active 18-game streak.
• Senior All-America Sara Plourde is 31-9 with a 1.90 earned run average and leads the nation in strikeouts for the third-consecutive year with 447. She also has 36 complete games, 12 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 .294 with nine HR and 26 RBI.
• Head Coach Elaine Sortino is in her 33rd season at UMass with a 1,150-481-6 (.705) overall record. The 2004 NFCA Hall of Fame inductee ranks fourth 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.


 

 

Scouting Fordham
 Fordham enters the weekend with a 30-20 overall record and sits in second place in the A-10 at 14-2. The Rams have been nearly perfect at home this season, compiling a 9-1 record at the renovated Bahoshy Field. Fordham is second in the A-10 in both batting (.267) and pitching (2.40), while they lead the conference in fielding (.974).
 OF Lindsey Kay Bright leads the Rams in hitting (.397), stolen bases (8), sac bunts (6) and on-base pct. (.421). Bright’s .524 batting avg. in A-10 play is first, just ahead of UMass SS Quianna Diaz-Patterson’s .511. Freshman Paige Ortiz has put up an impressive rookie campaign as she is hitting .307 on the year and leads the team in home runs (12), RBI (38) and slugging percentage (.558).
 In the circle, All-American Jen Mineau is 24-11 on the year with a 1.64 ERA. The senior has 28 complete games and 343 strikeouts in 230.2 innings pitched.

Series With Fordham
 UMass leads the all-time series 41-7, including a 20-2 edge in the Bronx. Fordham has won the last three meetings, which included a sweep in Amherst (6-0 and 4-0) and a 1-0 win in 10 innings at the 2011 Atlantic 10 Tournament. The Rams have won four of the last six and five of the last 10.

Scouting La Salle
 La Salle enters the weekend at 7-38 overall and 1-15 in A-10 play. The Explorers split with Dayton last weekend for their first conference win of the year. They are 2-8 at home and 0-4 in league home contests.
 3B Liz Reed leads the team in batting (.250), doubles (6), triples (2) and sac bunts (5), and is second in hits (26) and runs (13). SS Megan Hodgson is second in hitting (.241) and first in home runs (4), RBI (12) and walks (14).
 Alicia Aughton is 7-19 with a 3.51 ERA and 22 complete games. She has struck out 86 and walked 42 in 175.1 innings. Kristin Travers is winless in 13 starts with six complete games and a 8.07 ERA.

Series With La Salle
 UMass has won all 35 meetings with La Salle and holds a 19-0 record in games played in Philadelphia. The Minutewomen have held the Explorers scoreless 23 times and hitless four times. Sara Plourde recorded the most recent no-hitter as she threw a perfect game in an 8-0 six-inning victory on May 1 of last year.

Top Three In The Lineup Setting The Table For UMass
 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 .349, 23 points higher than Fordham. In fact, Diaz-Patterson is second in A-10 games with a .511 avg., Matthew is third at .422 and Bettencourt is sixth at .395.  Matthew is second in runs scored and first in triples and stolen bases, while Diaz-Patterson is first in hits and RBI. Additionally, Sara Plourde who has hit in the four and six spots this year is paces all players in A-10 contests with eight HR, is second to Diaz-Patterson in RBI and first in pitching strikeouts.

Minutewomen Strong On ‘D’
 UMass has been very solid on defense during its current 15-game winning streak. In fact, the Minutewomen lead the A-10 in league games with a .984 fielding pct and have committed just five errors. UMass has not made a miscue in  12 of 15 A-10 contests. Prior to a pair of errors in the first game against Charlotte on Sunday, the Minutewomen had been clean in the field over their previous seven games.

And Then There Was One
 Entering the weekend, UMass is the lone unbeaten in Atlantic 10 play at 15-0. 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 Bat/Ball & Stick/Ball Sports Dominating Conference Play
 While the UMass softball team has a 15-0 mark in Atlantic 10 play thus far, some other spring sports are dominating their league competition as well. Entering the weekend, UMass softball, men’s lacrosse (6-0 in CAA), women’s lacrosse (7-0 in A-10) and baseball (9-6 in A-10) are a combined 37-6 in conference play for an .860 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 Producing In Bunches In Final Season
 Sara Plourde is definitely doing her part to make her final season a memorable one. The two-time All-America selection from Bristol, Conn., currently leads the nation in strikeouts (447), strikeouts per seven innings (12.9) and fewest hits allowed per seven innings (2.73). She has also held opponents to a nation’s best .116 batting average in 243.0 innings this season.
 Her 1,555 career strikeouts are 10th all-time in NCAA Division I history. She is on pace to lead the country in strikeouts for the third time in her career, becoming just the third player in NCAA history to accomplish the feat. By leading the country in strikeouts for the second time a year ago, Plourde became just the sixth 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.
 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.
 Offensively she has been a threat to opposing teams as well. Since being inserted into the lineup prior to the Northwestern contest on March 20, she has hit .294 with nine home runs and 26 RBI over the last 23 games. Her eight HRs in 15 A-10 games lead the league and her 21 RBI are second. She hit a home run in five-consecutive games from April 8-15 which fell one shy of tying the NCAA Division I record.

Plourde Named Top 25 Finalist For USA Softball POY Award
 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 on April 11. The winner will be announced at the opening of the 2012 NCAA Women’s College World Series (WCWS) in Oklahoma City.
 Just before the start of post-season play, a list of 10 finalists will be announced on May 9. The three finalists will be announced May 23, while the winner of the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award will be revealed on May 29 prior to the start of the NCAA WCWS in Oklahoma City.
 The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award is voted on by coaching representatives from 11 Division I Conferences in the 15 ASA Regions as well as members of the media who consistently cover Division I Softball across the country.

Plourde Selected Ninth In National Pro Fastpitch
 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.

UMass In The NCAA
 UMass has a number of players who appear in the top portions of the NCAA rankings in a number of categories. Sara Plourde currently leads the nation in strikeouts (434), strikeouts per seven innings (12.9) and fewest hits allowed by seven innings (2.73). She is also second in victories (29), sixth in shutouts (11) and 87th in ERA (2.02). Offensively, Plourde’s nine home runs put her 84th in Division I.
 Cyndil Matthew and Quianna Diaz-Patterson have their names scattered across the nation’s leaders. Matthew ranks 11th in steals, 17th in runs, 21st in triples and 38th in batting avg. Diaz-Patterson is 21st in doubles, 38th in RBI, 112th in batting avg and 155th in slugging pct.
 As a team, UMass ranks in the top 80 in 10 of the 11 categories.

UMass Concludes Seventh Perfect Home Season
 Following Wednesday’s win over Boston University, UMass concluded its home schedule 13-0 on the season. The Minutewomen are one of just five schools out of 289 at the Division I level who are still unbeaten in their home park. The others are Louisville (25-0), Louisiana-Lafayette (24-0), Texas Southern (16-0) and Nebraska (13-0).
 UMass has been perfect at home seven times in program history with the last time coming nine years ago when the 2003 squad went 18-0.

2012 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 DP/OF Lindsey Webster.
 The 2012 squad consists of five seniors, four juniors, six sophomores and five freshman. The 20-member team hails from 11 different states, with the majority coming from Massachusetts (7), California (2), Connecticut (2) and New Hampshire (2). UMass also has one player each from Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

UMass Selected 2nd In Atlantic 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 picked 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.

Plourde named To ASA USA Softball Player of the Year “Watch List”
 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.

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.

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