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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Softball Season on the Upswing

Sophmore outfielder Elizabeth Erlandson won the Little
East Conference Player of the week.

Sophmore outfielder Elizabeth Erlandson won the Little East Conference Player of the week.

UMass Boston’s softball team has emphatically turned the corner. After a challenging Florida spring trip, the team put together a seven-game unbeaten streak. This is the longest-ever streak of its kind by a Beacons’ softball team.

The streak was highlighted by convincing wins against Newbury College. Facing a 4-1 deficit in the doubleheader’s first game, UMass Boston dominated in its decisive 14-6 and 15-2 victories. The Beacons finished the run with hard-fought 9-7 win and 2-2 tie against Mitchell College, before falling with 8-0 and 7-1 defeats against the conference’s first-place team Rhode Island College.

The victories are encouraging for this young team. With ten of the Beacons’ fifteen players underclassmen, it is clear why improvement has come with time.

“Now we’ve been playing together for awhile, and before we just started,” said Andrea Ciarletta, junior third baseman. “It’s a new team, but we’re starting to mesh now that we’re outside playing every day.”

Nowhere was this more apparent than the Newbury College doubleheader, where Freshman Jennifer Widener noted the team played with a great level of intensity. The result was impressive: the Beacons’ bats came alive to the tune of 30 combined hits.

The hitting outburst began in the final four innings of the first game, where the Beacons combined for 13 runs and forced the game’s conclusion via a late-inning mercy rule. Ciarletta and fellow senior Liz Erlandson began the batting clinic with RBI doubles and singles, respectively in the third to spark a five-run inning. Erlandson had a three-hit game and reached base in every at-bat.

In the second game, UMass Boston continued the momentum and jumped to an early 9-1 lead after two innings. The rout was on. Post-game, Ciarletta emphasized that Sophomore Marcia Beatty had a break-out game, as she poked a couple of two-run RBI doubles to lead the charge. Katherine Wall, Catie O’Reilly and Ciarletta each had RBI hits in the first inning to give the Beacons a lead it never relinquished.

While the bats came alive, Coach Amy Zombeck attributed the team’s recent success to consistent defense and pitching. Zombeck singled out Widener, who recently made a successful transition from shortstop to centerfield and brings great quickness to the position. And, fellow Freshman Nikki Johnson pitched a brilliant second game. She allowed no earned runs and only two walks over six innings.

Following the Newbury College game, Zombeck also recognized the strong leadership displayed by the five upperclassmen.

“O’Reilly, Liz [Erlandson], Andrea [Ciarletta], Wall and Molly [Norton] all have been here and stuck through tough times,” said Zombeck. “We’re starting to step up and turn the program around. We have a belief we can win.”

The improved confidence has helped UMass Boston achieve or surpass its win totals from the past two seasons (six and eight, respectively). The team’s record now stands at 8-15-1. But, the team has a winning record since the Florida trip.

“This is the first real step toward a rebuilding process,” added Zombeck, in describing the Beacons’ accomplishments to-date following the Newbury College game. “With our younger players and leadership from seniors, I look forward to the future. And by that, I mean the next game.”

Indeed, the future is now.