May 11, 2011
Weekly Notes in PDF Format
AMHERST, Mass. -
The UMass softball team (28-17, 14-5 A-10) heads to Charlotte, N.C. this week looking to claim its 23rd Atlantic 10 Championship and seventh in a row. The Minutewomen, the No. 2 seed, receive a bye in the first round and will open play on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. against the winner of Wednesday's game between No. 3 Saint Joseph's and No. 6 Dayton. On the other side of the bracket, top-seeded Fordham awaits the winner of No. 4 Temple and No. 5 Charlotte in the double-elimination tournament that concludes on Saturday.
UMass has won 15 out of the last 16 Atlantic 10 Chmpionships, including the last six in a row, and 22 titles overall. Last season the Minutewomen came out of the losers bracket to take to games from Fordham on Championship Saturday to win the title at home.
Saturday's finals will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network. Free live audio of all UMass games will be available on UMassAthletics.com via Sportsjuice. Free live stats for all games will also be available at UMassAthletics.com by clicking on the GameTracker links. Live video of all games can be seen at Atlantic10.org.
Junior pitcher Sara Plourde leads the nation in strikeouts with 463. She was named A-10 Pitcher of the Year on Tuesday, her second year in a row taking the honor. Plourde became the third pitcher in program history to reach 1,000 career Ks against Boston University last April 27 and the first to do it in her junior season. She had a school-record streak of 30 1/3 no-hit innings streak at home earlier this season as well.
Head Coach Elaine Sortino is in her 32nd season leading UMass. She has won 1,128 games in her career after entering 2011 with exactly 1,100. The 2004 NFCA Hall of Fame inductee ranks fifth among active Division I head coaches in wins and has a career winning percentage of .706 (1,128-467-6).
A-10 FINALS TO AIR ON CBS SPORTS
The Atlantic 10 Conference announced on Monday, April 18 that CBS Sports Network will televise a live broadcast of the championship finals of both women's lacrosse and softball this spring.
Charlotte and the D.L. Phillips Softball Diamond will host the 2011 A-10 Softball Championships, May 11-14. Six schools will qualify for the tournament as first round action gets underway on Wednesday, May 11. The championship final is set for Saturday, May 14 at 3:30 p.m., with game two, if needed, scheduled for 6:00 p.m.
CBS Sports Network can be found nationally on DirecTV channel 613 and the Dish Network channel 152. Local cable subscribers are encouraged to check their local listings. For complete coverage of the Atlantic 10 Conference, log on to www.atlantic10.com.
FIVE EARN A-10 SEASON HONORS
Sara Plourde was named Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year for the second straight year, headlining several UMass honorees when the Atlantic 10 Conference announced its softball regular season awards on Tuesday. The junior pitcher was also named to the All-Conference first team, while sophomore outfielder Cyndil Matthew was named to the second team. Freshmen Tiffany Meeks and Lindsey Webster were both named to the All-Rookie team, and Kyllie Magill and Webster were named Honorable Mention All-Conference.
Plourde's second Pitcher of the Year honor marks the sixth-straight year a UMass pitcher has won the award and 17th overall. Brandice Balschmiter won four in a row from 2006 to 2009. Kelly Daut (1994-95), Danielle Henderson (1997-99), and Kaila Holtz (2002-03) are the other multiple winners of the award in program history.
Joining Plourde on the All-Conference first team are Charlotte's Briana Gwaltney and Tenaya Tucker, Lauren Nacke of Dayton, Fordham's Jocelyn Dearborn, Samantha Pellechio and Jen Mineau, Maureen Wells of St. Bonaventure, Bernadette Moran and Dana Parks of Saint Joseph's, and Saint Louis' Kristin Nicoletti. Dearborn was named the A-10's Player of the Year.
Joining Matthew on the second team are Charlotte's Katy Hackett and Whitney Williams, Dayton's Kathleen Maloof, Fordham's Jamie Labovick, Brooke Frey of St. Bonaventure, Monica Aguilar and Erin Gallagher of Saint Joseph's, and Rachel Knable, Stephanie Pasquale and Sarah Prezioso of Temple.
MAGILL NAMED TO ACADEMIC TEAM
Junior second baseman Kyllie Magill was named to the Atlantic 10 Academic All-Conference Team it was announced on Friday. With a cumulative GPA of 3.669 in Kinesiology, this is the Pawtucket, R.I. native's second-straight year receiving the honor.
Joining Magill on the Academic All-Conference team are Charlotte's Tenaya Tucker and Whitney Williams, Dayton's Kathleen Maloof, Beckah Wiggins and Jen Mineau of Fordham, St. Bonaventure's Kara Morenus, Saint Joseph's Dana Parks, Saint Louis' Kristin Nicoletti and Samantha Schoell of Temple. Fordham's Mineau was also named A-10 Student-Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row.
This is the 21st-straight year at least one of Sortino's players has been named A-10 Academic All-Conference.
MINUTEWOMEN GO 3-0 LAST WEEK
After breaking open a scoreless pitching duel with a six-run ninth inning in a 6-1 game-one victory, UMass got the bats going early in game two, winning 11-1 in five innings to give the Minutewomen a doubleheader sweep at Rhode Island and clinch the No. 2 seed.
Tiffany Meeks accounted for the first runs in game one with a two-run home run in the top of the ninth that spurred a six-run inning for the Minutewomen after Sara Plourde and Jayshree Narendran each had shutouts through the first eight innings of play. UMass used four walks, a single, two errors, and a hit batter to blow open the game in the ninth.
Lindsey Webster and Stephanie Mayne each hit home runs in game two as UMass scored runs in all five innings. Webster finished with three hits and two RBIs in the game, while Meghan Carta (2 RBIs), Tiffany Meeks, Christine Della Vechhia, and Cyndil Matthew (RBI) all had two hits.
Plourde went the distance in both games, not allowing an earned run in 14 total innings. The junior allowed one unearned run on two hits and two walks with 18 strikeouts in game one, and then allowed one unearned run on two hits and one walk with nine strikeouts in game two.
On Senior Day at the UMass Softball Complex on Sunday afternoon, it was a freshman that gave UMass an eight-inning victory to close the regular season. Tiffany Meeks singled through the right side with two outs in eighth inning to drive in Kyllie Magill and give the Minutewomen (28-17) a 1-0 victory over Quinnipiac (30-25). Seniors Audrey Boutin and Meghan Carta, who combined to record the Minutewomen's first two hits, were honored in a ceremony prior to the game.
UMass receives the No. 2 seed in this week's Atlantic 10 Championship and will face the winner of No. 3 Saint Joseph's and No. 6 Dayton on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. in Charlotte.
In the bottom of the eighth, Magill walked with one out and Lindsey Webster followed by getting hit by a pitch. Carta's ground-out to second base moved the runners to second and third with two outs for Meeks, who went the other way with the 1-2 pitch to bring in Magill and win the game.
Sara Plourde (26-13) twirled her 13th shutout of the season, striking out 15 in eight innings. The junior allowed just two hits and walked two batters. It was the 13th time this season Plourde fanned 15 or more batters.
A "10" IN THE A-10
After going 14-5 in 2011, UMass has an all-time regular season Atlantic 10 record of 341-45-1 (.882), dating back to 1983, with 21 regular season conference titles.
In the A-10 Tournament, the Minutewomen have an all-time record of 75-15 (.833) and have won 22 conference championships.
Last season at the UMass Softball Complex, after beating St. Joe's in the second round (3-0), top-seeded UMass fell to Fordham (7-5), but the Minutewomen beat Charlotte (9-4) to make the finals and swept two games from the Rams (3-0 & 8-3) to claim their sixth title in a row and 15th out of the last 16. Sara Reeves crushed five home runs in the tournament and was named Most Outstanding Player. It was UMass' first time winning from the losers' bracket since 2002.
The only other time Charlotte has hosted the A-10 Championship was in 2008. UMass beat Fordham (2-0) and Charlotte (5-4) to make the finals, where it once again met the 49ers. Freshmen Lindsay Maroney and Audrey Boutin combined to drive in all three runs in a 3-0 UMass win.
PLOURDE-ING IT ON
Junior pitcher Sara Plourde continues to rewrite the UMass record books. It was announced on Tuesday that she repeated as A-10 Pitcher of the Year and she has climbed back atop the nation in strikeouts with 463. She led the country last season with a school-record 556.
The four-time A-10 Pitcher of the Week became the third pitcher in program history to reach 1,000 Ks against Boston University last Wednesday, joining Danielle Henderson (1,343) and Brandice Balschmiter (1,218). Plourde is also the first of the three to reach the plateau in her junior season.
The All-American has continued her dominating form in 2011, striking out 463 batters in 270 1/3 innings pitched. She has a 1.22 ERA and opponents are hitting just .135 against her. Going into the week, she ranks second in the nation in strikeouts per seven innings (12.0).
Plourde has thrown four no-hitters in 2011, running her career total to 10. Three of the four came in conference play and one - a six-inning 8-0 win over La Salle on May 1 - was a perfect game, the 12th in UMass history.
Plourde established herself as one of the nation's top pitchers in 2010, posting a 40-8 record with a 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 old mark of 465 by 91 Ks.
Plourde also 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.
Plourde garnered countless honors in 2010, including NFCA All-American, NFCA All-Region, A-10 Pitcher of the Year, ECAC Pitcher of the Year, A-10 All-Conference, ECAC All-Star, A-10 All-Championship Team, and was named A-10 Pitcher of the Week six times.
MAGILL'S BAT COMES TO LIFE
Junior second baseman Kyllie Magill leads the team in both RBIs (24) and runs scored (24), while batting .301 on the season. She is also 9-of-10 in stolen base attempts.
The Pawtucket, R.I. native was named A-10 Academic All-Conference last week and on Tuesday was named A-10 All-Conference Honorable Mention.
She has been her best against conference foes, sporting a .353 average and a .440 on-base percentage in A-10 games.
In the last 10 games, Magill is batting .394 with a .500 OBP with 13 hits and six RBI. The Minutewomen are 8-2 in those games.
She drove in the winning run in the eighth inning with an infield single on April 24 vs. GW.
In four games at Temple and St. Joe's (3/26-27), Magill went 9-16 (.563) at the plate, driving in three runs. She led the team that weekend with 11 total bases, .688 slugging percentage and .588 on base percentage.
Magill is a two-time Atlantic 10 All-Conference Second-Teamer at second base (2009-10), batting over .300 as a freshman and a sophomore.
WEBSTER MAKES FIRST IMPRESSION
Freshman pitcher/outfielder Lindsey Webster took advantage of some early-season opportunities and quickly made herself a fixture in the UMass lineup. The Northridge, Calif. product has started 35 games and has vaulted to the second-highest batting average on the team with a .304 mark (31-102).
Webster leads the team in home runs with seven after basting one in each game against La Salle two weekends ago and adding another at Rhode Island on Saturday. She is second on the team in both runs scored (23) and RBIs (22).
Her accomplishments were recognized on Tuesday when Webster was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team and All-Conference Honorable Mention.
She ignited a four-run inning against Saint Bonaventure with a two-run shot to left field in the 5th inning of game two o April 10.
She blasted a dramatic two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning to tie the game as UMass went on to win in extra innings at St. Joe's (3/27).
Webster had her break-out performance on March 11 against Toledo in Tampa when she went 4-for-5 with a double, three runs scored, and one RBI. She hit .615 (8-13) with nine runs scored in five games at the USF Under Armour Showcase on Mar. 11-13.
In the circle, Webster is 0-3 with a 3.85 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched. She held Tulsa to one run through eight innings in her collegiate debut before falling 3-1 in nine innings.
CYNDIL'S ON A TEAR
Cyndil Matthew took over the the starting centerfielder job this season from graduated All-American and two-time A-10 batting champ Carly Normandin. The sophomore did not disappoint however, leading the team with a .323 batting average and 13 stolen bases.
The Westfield, N.J. native has been a tougher and tougher out as the season has gone on. In the last 10 games, Matthew is batting .571 (16-28) with a .636 on-base percentage and a .750 slugging percentage.
Matthew was named Atlantic 10 All-Conference Second Team on Tuesday.
She hit .439 with a .508 on-base percentage and 10 runs scored in Atlantic 10 games.
MEEKS CATCHES FIRE
Freshman outfielder Tiffany Meeks has come on strong at the end of the season. The Salinas, Calif. is hitting .308 and slugging .538 in UMass' last 10 games. She is tied with fellow freshman Lindsey Webster for the club lead in RBIs over that span with seven.
Even better than her overall numbers as of late has been her clutch hitting. Meeks led UMass to a pair of extra-inning wins on the final weekend of the regular season. At Rhode Island on May 7, she blasted a two-run home run in the ninth inning to break a scoreless tie and spur UMass to victory. The following day, she broke another scoreless tie, this time with a single in the bottom of the eighth inning to drive in the winning run at home against Quinnipiac.
Meeks was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team on Tuesday.
MINUTEWOMEN GO 3-2 TWO WEEKS AGO
Sara Plourde struck out 14 batters to eclipse the 1,000-strikeout mark for her career and Cyndil Matthew scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh after Boston University tied the game in the top of the inning to give the Minutewomen a 3-2 victory over the Terriers on April 27 at the UMass Softball Complex. Plourde became the third pitcher in program history to reach the plateau and the first to do it prior to her senior season. The Minutewomen led 2-0 thanks to third-inning RBI single by Kyllie Magill and a fifth-inning solo home run by Jordan Storro, but Erica Casacci led off the seventh inning with a single for BU and April Setterlund followed with a home run to right-center on the first pitch to tie the game.
Fordham returned to the UMass Softball Complex for the first time since last season's Atlantic 10 Championships, and Chelsea Palumbo drove in five runs with a two-run single and a three-run home run to lead the Rams over UMass, 6-0. It was a pitching duel between Sara Plourde and Jen Mineau until the Rams took advantage of two UMass errors to plate three runs in the fourth and added three more in the sixth on Palumbo's homer. Cyndil Matthew went 2-for-2, accounting for both UMass hits. Both starting pitchers started the game on fire, retiring the first eight batters for both sides. Plourde (21-12) struck out seven of the first eight batters before allowing her first baserunner with a walk two-out walk in the third. She finished with 12 strikeouts and allowed three earned runs on six hits and three walks.
The Rams successfully completed a sweep of the Minutewomen on Saturday as Jen Mineau struck out 12 in a four-hit shutout performance to lead Fordham to a 4-0 victory over UMass. The Rams took advantage of a UMass error in a three-run fourth inning and Jocelyn Dearborn added a solo home run in the fifth to give them the two-game sweep. Cyndil Matthew went 2-for-3 for the Minutewomen.
UMass responded with a sweep of La Salle on Sunday when Sara Plourde retired all 18 batters she faced to record the 12th perfect game in program history in a 8-0 six-inning victory in game two after striking out 18 in a 9-2 win in game one to give UMass softball (25-17, 12-5 A-10) a doubleheader sweep over La Salle (4-37, 1-15 A-10). It was the first solo perfect game of the junior's career and her 10th overall no-hitter, third this season. Lindsey Webster homered in each game of the twinbill, while Meghan Carta added a round-tripper of her own and Cyndil Matthew continued her hot streak, combining to go 5-for-6.
#1 IN A-10 PRESEASON POLL
UMass has been predicted to win the 2011 Atlantic 10 Championship in polling of the conference coaches. Head Coach Elaine Sortino's Minutewomen have won the last six A-10 titles, 15 of the last 16, and 22 overall. Fordham, the 2010 runner-up, was predicted second, and Charlotte came in third.
Saint Joseph's was predicted fourth, followed by Saint Louis, Temple, Rhode Island, Dayton, St. Bonaventure, La Salle, and George Washington.
The six-team, double-elimination A-10 Championship will be held May 11-14 at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte's 49ers Softball Diamond in Charlotte, N.C.
FACING THE NATION'S BEST
Massachusetts began the 2011 season with six of the team's first 10 games against nationally ranked opponents.
In those six games, the Minutewomen have squared off four times against teams ranked in the top 11 or better. UMass dropped two games to No. 11 Michigan, 3-0 and 5-1 in the opening weekend at the FAU Kickoff Classic before dropping a 9-2 decision at the hands of No. 7 Washington and a 3-0 game to No. 11 Texas at the Cathedral City Classic on Feb. 25-27.
SORTINO HONORED FOR 1,100TH WIN
UMass Softball Head Coach Elaine Sortino was honored on Dec. 9 at the Easton Victory Club Luncheon at the 2010 NFCA National Convention at the San Diego Marriott & Marina in San Diego, Calif. The 31-year head coach of the Minutewomen achieved her 1,100th victory in the Atlantic 10 Championship last season and was one of several coaches to be recognized for reaching milestone victories.
Sortino entered her 32nd season in 2011 with a career record of 1,100-451-6. She ranks fifth among active NCAA Div. I coaches in career victories.
Sortino achieved her 1,100th win in dramatic fashion as it came in UMass' 8-3 victory over Fordham to win the 2010 A-10 Championship on May 15.
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