UMass Will Return Strong Core
May 21, 2008
AMHERST - The University of Massachusetts junior class is on track to be one of the winningest groups in UMass history. The Minutewomen have advanced to the NCAA Tournament three times, have hosted three regionals and advanced to the 2006 Super Regional.
But with their season ending Sunday, the group has just one shot left to reach their oft-stated goal of advancing to the Women's College World Series.
On paper that team could be one of the Minutewomen's best in years. UMass only loses left fielder Lauren Proctor and second baseman Stacy Cullington, who missed much of the year with a thumb injury. Brandice Balschmiter returns for her senior year with a chance to become the program's all-time winningest pitcher.
The Minutewomen's top six hitters are also back.
Balschmiter said it would be a while before she could get over this Sunday's loss and look ahead.
"I haven't had time to reflect yet," Balschmiter said. "It's still an open wound."
BALSCHMITER'S WEEKEND - The loss ended a memorable weekend for Balschmiter. In UMass' three games on Saturday she threw 244 pitches in two wins and a loss before mildly spraining her ankle when she landed awkwardly in the Minutewomen's win over Lehigh, Saturday night. She was on crutches after the game, but showed no signs of the injury in a strong effort in game one Sunday before faltering in game two.
"There was a lot of compression overnight, a lot of ice," Sortino said. "The swelling was minimal so her discomfort was minimal. I knew she'd come out with an 'A' game. She's a warrior."
CULLINGTON PLAYS - After being sidelined with a right thumb injury since April 4, Cullington returned to action in the regional. Originally she was only cleared to hit and pinch hit twice on Saturday. She was cleared to return to the field on Sunday and made a diving stop in game one. She was 0-for-8 in the weekend action.
"I thought it would lift us a little bit. She's waited a long time to get back in the lineup," Sortino said. "I'm glad for her that she didn't have to watch in what was her last game."
MISCELLANEOUS - UMass' 42 wins gave the Minutewomen their seventh 40-win season in school history. Rosey Neill's fifth inning home run gave her 19 this season, a Stanford single-season record. It was just the second home run Balschmiter gave up in 2008.
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