Softball: UConn continues their home stand against Tulsa this weekend

A UConn slugger sends the ball flying during the Huskies 7-1 victory over UMass-Amhest Minutewomen on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at Burrill Family Field. (Tyler Benton/The Daily Campus)

The UConn softball team (15-23, 1-7 The American) will take on Tulsa (30-13, 8-1 The American) in what should be a tough matchup at Burrill Family Field. They open up Friday at 4 p.m., continue Saturday at 2 p.m. and finish the three-game series Sunday at 12 p.m.

So far this week, the Huskies have had little trouble putting runs on the board, scoring 13 runs over the last two games. Kelli Bates recorded the big hit against UMass, driving in two runs during the 7-1 victory.

Emma Stanley got UConn going early during the three-run first inning when she knocked two runners in against Farleigh Dickinson.  However, the opposing pitcher Erica Johnson settled down and UConn did not score until the bottom of the seventh. They showed fight, but it was not enough as they fell 7-6.

Looking ahead to this weekend, Tulsa has been phenomenal this year.

Offensively, they have some speed at the top of the order with Julia Hollingsworth, who is hitting .393 and stole 14 bases. Hollingsworth leads the team in on base percentage with a whopping .471, but Maggie Withee isn’t too far behind her with .454 mark.

UConn is going to have to keep them off the base paths and play clean defense in order to prevent Tulsa from scoring. Tulsa’s main weakness is the long ball. They only have 14 home runs as a team compared to UConn’s 20.

We don’t look at pressure as pressure, it’s an opportunity … anytime we get to conference play, it’s a dogfight.
— Head Coach Jen McIntyre

Tulsa’s strength is predicated on their pitching, more specifically, junior Emily Watson. She currently leads the American in ERA at 1.12, with a record of 21-3.  The pitcher with the second lowest ERA is her teammate Haley Meinen at 1.99. Regardless of whether UConn faces Watson or Meinen, runs should be hard to come by.

UConn head coach Jen McIntyre said that the team will be prepared.

“We watched a lot of film so far,” McIntyre said. “We have a pretty good idea of what we think that she might be attacking us with. We are going to set practice up to put us into some challenging situations to counteract that.”

McIntyre said that the team has to be disciplined against Watson because she throws pitches that get the hitters to chase balls out of the zone.

UConn’s offense is led by freshman Carli Cutler, who is hitting .343 (which ranks in the top 10 in the American) with three homers and 14 RBIs. Senior Valerie Sadowl is has provided a steady bat all season for UConn as she is hitting .295 with four homers and 17 RBIs.

The Huskies pitching staff is led by freshman Katie Koshes who has an ERA of 2.55 (seventh in the American) with 100 strikeouts. Sophomore Jill Stockley is also having a solid season, with a 2.82 ERA over 84.1 innings.

The pressure will be on UConn’s pitching staff to keep Tulsa’s offense contained, while their offense tries to put up runs.

“I anticipate it’s going to be a tough series, just as I do every weekend,” McIntyre said. “We don’t look at pressure as pressure, it’s an opportunity … anytime we get to conference play, it’s a dogfight.”


Michael Logan is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at michael.logan@uconn.edu.