Following a string of cancellations, postponements and road losses, the UConn softball team got back in the win column on Wednesday. The Huskies defeated Central Connecticut 6-0 for their first April win and moved to 14-24 on the season.
After back-to-back 1-0 losses to USF on Saturday and Sunday, the Huskies woke up their bats against CCSU. UConn didn’t take long to get the scoring started. With one out in the bottom of the first inning, Alyson Ambler lined a double to right center that scored Kelli Bates from first and gave her team a 1-0 lead. A spectacular diving catch by CCSU centerfielder Katie Schmidt robbed UConn of another run, but they continued to hit the ball hard all day.
The UConn offense recorded hits in each of the next three innings, but they were unable to get timely hits and left runners on base, keeping it a one-run game. Meanwhile sophomore Chelsea Eckert was dominant on the mound. CCSU couldn’t get anything going at the plate and only had two hits through five innings.
“She did a great job being able to command her pitches,” UConn head coach Jen McIntyre said. “She really feels like she’s catching a groove, which is nice to see coming down the stretch.”
In the fifth inning, the Huskies finally got the clutch hit they were looking for with runners on base. An infield single by Ryne Nakama gave UConn a 2-0 lead and loaded the bases for freshman Ally Hernandez. The number nine batter in the lineup came through with a monster grand slam over the left field fence and gave her team the comfortable lead they were searching for all game.
“I knew that I was just gonna swing the bat hard and hopefully scratch out a run,” Hernandez said.
She did much more than just scratch out a run on Wednesday, and she has been a key contributor for UConn all season long. Despite inconsistent playing time, Hernandez leads UConn with a .393 batting average and doubled her RBI output with the grand slam.
“She’s been swinging the bat. That’s a really good pitch for her to hit, so I knew if she could just get a good barrel on it she was gonna be alright,” McIntyre said.
UConn added two hits in the sixth inning to bring their total up to 14 on the day. Shortstop Lexi Gifford, designated hitter Dom Pinto, Ambler and Hernandez all enjoyed multi-hit games and six other players got in on the hit parade. CCSU got two runners on to start the seventh, but Eckert pitched out of the jam to complete a four-hit shutout.
The Huskies remain at home for a three-game weekend series against conference opponent East Carolina. The series begins Friday at 4 p.m. Game two is set for Saturday at 2 p.m., and the series concludes Sunday at 12 p.m.
Aaron Esposito is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering men’s hockey. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.