Home Run Season
Softball seniors leave a legacy
The Minutewomen softball team’s season ended with a thrilling five-hour, 13-minute game at the UMass Softball Complex, the longest game in program history. Although they lost the NCAA Amherst Regional final to the University of Washington 6-1, the team’s stellar seniors walked off the field with a 41-10 season record cementing their reputation as some of the all-time best UMass players.
UMass Amherst 2008-09 female athlete of the year Brandice Balschmiter ’10 pitched all 15 innings of the final. During her four years as a star pitcher, she was the career wins leader (126) and second in career strikeouts (1218). When she won A-10 pitcher of the year for 2009, she became only the second athlete in A-10 history in any sport to win player of the year honors all four years.
Whitney Mollica ’09 leaves UMass Amherst as one of the best hitters in program history, highlighted by her record 156 RBIs. Samantha Salato ’09 graduates second on the all-time list with 32 home runs after she shattered the single-season record this year with 19.
Balschmiter has been a standout on campus since she was 12 years old. As a girl, the best week of the summer for the pitcher was always softball camp at UMass Amherst. She raced wheeled desk chairs down dorm halls when she first came to camp from Newark, New York, and idolized the older players.
This summer, thousands of girls will be looking up to Balschmiter. She’ll play softball for the Chicago Bandits in the country’s only professional softball league, National Pro Fastpitch. Balschmiter was a first-round pick for the Bandits and fifth overall in the draft.
Balschmiter credits Hall of Fame coach Elaine Sortino (ending her 30th season) for her development from “a big, clumsy kid” at summer camp to one of the elite few selected to play professional softball. “I’ve known Coach half my life,” she says, “It was always my dream to come to UMass Amherst.”