170608ind Oliver Gatorade (copy)

North Kingstown’s Kiara Oliver, pictured as a high school senior, is now starring for UMass. 

Two-time Gatorade Player of the Year Kiara Oliver has her collegiate softball career off to a rousing start.

The former North Kingstown star made her first appearance in the circle on opening weekend for the University of Massachusetts and promptly tossed seven innings of shutout ball with eight strikeouts against Southern Mississippi. The performance helped power the Minutewomen to a 4-0 victory for their first win of the year.

Oliver has made five appearances since then, allowing one run versus Texas-Arlington and three against LSU before getting touched up for five by North Carolina-Greensboro. She was back on her game Saturday against Ohio University, surrendering one run on five hits in a complete-game win. She struck out eight.

Oliver leads the UMass pitching staff with 33 strikeouts in 28.1 innings. She also paces the squad in innings pitched and owns a 2.47 ERA.

More of the same for Feole

After being named the American Athletic Conference’s rookie pitcher of the year last spring, former Prout standout Mason Feole has zero intention of letting his standards slip in his sophomore campaign for the University of Connecticut. To that end, the ex-Crusader kicked off 2018 in fine style, hurling seven innings of one-hit ball as the Huskies routed Georgia State 10-1 Saturday to pick up their first win of the season.

Feole saw his no-hit bid evaporate in the fifth when the Panthers’ Kendall Ford laced a two-out double with the count full down the left field line, plating Luke Leonard for GSU’s only run of the day. Prior to that, the sophomore southpaw had opened proceedings by retiring the side in order in the first, before stranding a Georgia State runner in each of the next three frames. The contest was tight until the UConn nine came to bat in the sixth, as the Huskies posted the first of their two four-run innings of the afternoon.

Now armed with a 5-1 lead, Feole returned to the hill in the bottom of the sixth with one goal in mind—silence the Panther lineup.

That goal was reached with startling efficiency, as he faced the minimum in his final two innings of work, striking out a quartet of Georgia State hitters along the way.

By then, Feole had reached the end of his 100-pitch rope, with Colby Dunlop scattering a pair of hits in the final two innings to close the book on GSU.

UConn finished the opening weekend of the season with a 2-1 mark, starting with a 7-3 setback to Kennesaw State on Friday before picking up a 9-7 victory in 10 innings over Georgia Tech two days later.

Briefly

North Kingstown graduate Garrett Bucklin earned nationwide recognition for his sensational start to the 2018 season last week, with the American Volleyball Coaches Association tabbing him as its Division III player of the week.

The honor was conferred on the former Skipper for what he did for Rivier in straight-set triumphs over Johnson & Wales, Wentworth and Wells from Feb. 6 to 10, victories that launched the Raiders on their current four-match winning streak. Bucklin picked up at least 30 assists in each of those contests, with a career-high of 44 coming against then-number 11 Wentworth on February 8, surpassing the 43 he had against Hunter just last month . . . Former North Kingstown High School standout Brian Cox has been named a team captain with the LeMoyne College baseball team for the second year in a row. Cox batted .400 with two doubles and four RBI in the team’s opening weekend slate.

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