Fresh off a successful season opening tournament in Jacksonville, Florida, where UConn softball escaped with a 3-2 record, the Huskies will travel to Conway, South Carolina, to take part in the Battle at the Beach Invitational hosted by Coastal Carolina.
UConn will have a double-header against Kent State at 9 a.m. and Coastal Carolina at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. They will then turn right around and face Robert Morris and Rider in another double-header on Sunday at 10:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m., respectively.
The Huskies will once again look to their stellar pitching to shut down the competition. UConn pitchers have only allowed a 0.80 ERA through 34.1 innings pitched, in no small part due to sophomore Katie Koshes, who boasts zero earned runs and just five hits allowed through nine innings pitched.
Freshman Marybeth Olson has been stellar in her first 10 innings of college softball, allowing one earned run, seven hits and zero walks while striking out 11. Infielder Kiwi McDaniel will also look to continue her hot streak through the weekend. McDaniel leads the team in batting average with .375 and slugging percentage with .438.
The Huskies will face a huge challenge early in the morning on Saturday as they face Kent State. The Golden Flashes are the reigning Mid-American Conference champions in softball and were the MAC coaches’ choice to win the conference in preseason polling.
Led by third-year head coach Eric Oakley, Kent State returns seven starters from their conference-winning campaign, led by slugging infielder Holly Speers, who had 14 home runs and 35 RBIs and boasted a .733 slugging percentage in her 2017 season.
The Golden Flashes’ lineup also features All-MAC utility player Bailey Brownfield who led the team in conference batting average with .403, and senior outfielder Emily Dobbin, who hit .270 on the season and had the defensive play of the year, leaping over the outfield wall to rob Ohio of a home run in the MAC championship game.
UConn will get no break after facing the Flashes, as they play a red-hot Coastal Carolina right after. Led by veteran coach Kelley Green, the Golden Flashes went 4-1 in the Kickin’ Chicken Invitational last week with wins over Iowa State twice, Presbyterian and UNCG.
Freshman pitcher Kaitlin Beasley-Polko impressed in Coastal’s opening tournament with two shutout wins over Iowa State and Presbyterian in her first two college starts.
Despite their 32-23 overall record, the Chanticleers finished eighth in the Sun Belt last year with a 8-10 conference record and were picked to finish one spot higher by the Sun Belt coaches in the preseason poll.
Robert Morris will look to bounce back from a tough 2018 season opening tournament where they went 0-4 in the Cleveland State Domed Tournament against Cleveland State, Niagara, Canisius and Bowling Green. The Huskies will have to watch out for outfielder Abrielle McCartney, who has started out this season 6-13 with four doubles and five RBIs.
UConn’s final opponent, Rider, will come into their opening tournament of the year trying to put their 2017 season out of their minds. The Broncos had a 6-44 overall record and finished dead last in the Metro Atlantic Conference, going 1-19.
The Huskies participated in the Coastal Carolina Invitational for the first time last year, going 2-2 with two wins against Northern Kentucky and losses against North Dakota and Coastal Carolina.
Luke Swanson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.