Taking on their second top-25 foe of the year, the UConn softball team was swept by No. 23 South Florida this weekend in Tampa, Florida.
After losing in excruciatingly close fashion, 1-0, against UCF last Friday in Storrs, the Huskies had their last two games of the series canceled to weather and Tuesday’s game at UMass was postponed as well, leaving the Huskies (13-24) a little rusty coming into the series against South Florida (36-10).
It showed quickly in the first game. Lexi Gifford led off the top of the first with a single and, with one out, Alyson Ambler followed with one of her own. Dominique Pinto hit a sacrifice fly to advance each runner a base. With two outs, senior Alyssa Gardea came through with an RBI. On a fielder’s choice, she was thrown out at first but Gifford scored to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the first, things quickly unraveled. Junior Kayla Doty, who had been pitching well, got the start but only lasted two-thirds of an inning. Kristen Wyckoff walked and, after an out, was driven in on a double from Monica Santos. Doty got a strikeout, leaving the Bulls only one out to work with.
Erica Nunn singled to drive in Santos, and Mia Fung singled immediately after. Lauren Evans added another single to load the bases. Sam Worrell then laced a two-RBI double for the Bulls.
Head coach Jen McIntyre had seen enough and pulled Doty for sophomore Chelsea Eckert. Amber Donovan and then Wyckoff – Eckert’s two batters – each drove in RBI singles. Juli Weber had another RBI single of her own before Santos flied out to end the inning.
The Bulls struck again in the second, as Lee Ann Spivey walked and Erica Nunn doubled. With two on and two out Worrell then singled, which drive in the Bulls ninth run.
The Huskies finally settled down defensively, but the scoring was finished for the game. UConn lost in five innings.
The second game on Saturday was much closer. Freshman Jill Stockley got the start for UConn and pitched six innings, allowing one earned run on six hits. The action started quickly again, as UConn loaded the bases in the top of the first. Gifford and Kelli Bates singled back to back and, after an out, Pinto walked. But the Huskies were unable to capitalize as Gardea struck out and Jacklyn Dubois flied out.
South Florida put one on the board in the bottom of the third. Weber doubled to left, Santos singled and a sacrifice fly from Spivey scored Weber.
In a game with little action, UConn tried to tie it up in the bottom of the seventh. Heather Fyfe singled and then, with two outs, Ambler added another. Pinto struck out, however, and UConn dropped their third consecutive game in a tough, one-run shutout. Gifford and Dubois had two hits apiece, but the Huskies couldn’t string anything together.
The final game proved nearly identical for the Huskies. Stockley got the start again and pitched six inning, allowing one run on six hits. It was a brutal day for the Huskies at the plate as they managed just three hits. Ryne Nakama was the surprise source of offense at the end of the lineup, as she went two-for-two. Bates had the other hit.
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Santos singled. With runs coming at a premium, Spivey bunted her over to second. Nunn then doubled to drive Santos in. UConn went down in order in the bottom frame and dropped another 1-0 decision to the Bulls.
Despite playing well against the top two teams in the conference recently, the Huskies are now 1-6 in conference play. They will take on Central Connecticut Wednesday, a team they beat earlier this season. After the midweek matchup, UConn has three conference games in Storrs this weekend as East Carolina – also with only one conference win – comes to town.
Matt Barresi is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.