After an abysmal start to the season, the UConn softball team (10-18) started to chip away at the win-loss deficit by going 6-4 in two tournaments over the break. In the Hofstra Invitational, the Huskies went 3-1 by sweeping St. John’s in two games and splitting with Hofstra.
Between tournaments, UConn lost a non-conference contest at Coastal Carolina. The following weekend, they were in South Carolina for a tournament hosted by the College of Charleston. They would leave 3-2, beating local foes Brown and Central Connecticut as well as Eastern Michigan while losing to the host and Miami (Ohio).
During the stretch the Huskies had multiple tight losses, something they’re all too familiar with this season. They were swinging a big bat, however, with an impressive eight home runs in their last 10 games.
UConn got things going with two wins on March 12 to open up the Hofstra Invitational. The Huskies started off with St. John’s and won 5-0 as sophomore pitcher Chelsea Eckert went seven strong innings and allowed only four hits in the shutout for her second win of the year. The Huskies pounced early, with senior Alyson Ambler launching a three-run home run in the top of the first. Junior Dominique Pinto drove in senior Lexi Gifford on two other occasions later in the game as well.
Against the host school, Hofstra, freshman pitcher Jill Stockley started but was replaced by Eckert after three innings, who proceeded to pick up her third win. It was a strong offensive performance by UConn, as Gifford and senior Heather Fyfe led the way with three RBI apiece. UConn went down 3-0 after two and a half innings, but came back strong as they ultimately won 9-3.
The next day featured a high-scoring rematch against Hofstra that saw the Huskies hit three home runs, including two from Fyfe. Ambler had the other, but Hofstra had two long balls of its own in a 10-8 win. Fyfe recorded five RBI’s but Eckert struggled, giving up seven runs in five innings on 10 hits. Neither Stockley nor junior pitcher Kayla Doty could stop the bleeding in relief.
UConn wrapped up the tournament with another win over St. John’s. Doty went 4.2 innings, allowing all four Red Storm runs but Eckert was lights out in 2.1 innings of relief. Gifford had a two-run home run in the top of the first as part of her three-RBI effort. A two-run seventh by UConn sealed a 7-4 victory for the squad. Senior Valerie Sadowl walked with two outs and a triple from senior Alyssa Gardea drove her in. Junior Taylor Townsend then doubled to score Gardea.
In between tournaments, UConn was in Conway, South Carolina for a game against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. Eckert was on the mound and had a solid outing, throwing a complete game while allowing four runs on eight hits. However, UConn left six on base throughout the game and could only manage two runs, highlighted by a pinch-hit home run from Kate Sims.
The team opened the College of Charleston tournament with a game against the host. The game was scoreless until the third, when UConn got things going. Senior Jacklyn Dubois singled, and advanced on an infield out from Gardea. Freshman Kelli Bates then tripled to score Dubois, and Gifford drove in Bates with a single. Charleston gained one back in the bottom of the fourth and came to bat in the seventh facing a 2-1 deficit.
Stockley was out on the hill for the Huskies, having replaced Eckert. They went three innings each. A quick walk and single started things off. Kelly Sinclair put the ball in play and reached on a fielder’s choice. Taylor Dupree advanced while Madison Brown scored on an error in the field. Dupree and Sinclair each advanced on steals, and Rebecca Mueller singled to load the bases. Dupree scored on a wild pitch for a walk-off win.
On the second day, the Huskies faced off against a pair of New England foes in Brown and Central Connecticut. In the first game, Doty threw a complete game shutout allowing just two hits. The Huskies earned nine walks on the day and Pinto and Dubois each had two RBIs as UConn breezed to a 7-0 victory. UConn did most of its damage with two in the first and four in fourth.
The next game against the Blue Devils wasn’t much different. Stockley threw a complete game shutout of her own, allowing only six hits to CCSU. UConn had one in the first and one in the third before burying the Blue Devils for good with a three-run fifth. Freshman Ally Hernandez led off the inning with a walk, after an out Townsend singled and Pinto ripped a three-run home run.
In the third game of the tournament, UConn took a 10-1 beating from Miami (Ohio). Eckert struggled, giving up six runs in 1.3 innings of work. Stockley gave up another four in the following 5.1 innings as the RedHawks put up six in the second and four in the seventh.
They closed the tournament with a convincing 9-1 win over Eastern Michigan. Doty went all seven allowing one run on seven hits. A five-run seventh pushed UConn way ahead although already up 4-1. Pinto had three RBIs and Hernandez was a perfect three-for-three at the plate with two RBI’s.
The Huskies will open conference play this weekend as they travel to Memphis to take on the Tigers (15-15). Against common foes, the Tigers were able beat Coastal Carolina while losing to LSU and Illinois-Chicago.
Matt Barresi is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.