Softball travels to OKC for first time in 25 years

(File/The Daily Campus)

UConn softball heads down to Oklahoma City for the first time in 25 years as they’re set to play five games in three days in the Oklahoma State Hall of Fame Classic. The team is set to face Drake at 2:30 p.m. Friday followed by a matchup with Pacific at 5 p.m. Saturday’s doubleheader will consist of games against Oklahoma State and Purdue at 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. respectively. UConn will finish the tournament Sunday against Saint Francis at 11 a.m. before they head to play North Texas at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The Huskies (7-12) are coming off a rough weekend at the I-75 Challenge in Georgia, where the team dropped all five games it played. The stage is set for UConn as this is its first time back in Oklahoma City since its first (and only) Women’s College World Series appearance in 1993.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to play at our championship site and against some really tough competition,” head coach Jen McIntyre said. “We’ll be at a great venue with some great fans and we’re looking forward to it.”

UConn won four straight Big East championships from 1990-1993 and qualified for the WCWS in 1993. The Huskies earned their first WCWS win that year when they defeated Florida State 2-1 in an extra innings affair.

“That (1993 team) was a pretty special group that put UConn on the map,” McIntyre said. “Pat Conlan, who is the coach at Georgetown now, was an incredible athlete here…For us to do our part in honoring that tradition is what we want to do.”

Pitching remains key for the Huskies as their team ERA of 2.77 is good for third-best in the American Athletic Conference. While a 3-4 record isn’t ideal, freshman pitcher Marybeth Olson carries a 44-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 38.2 innings pitched. Junior pitcher Jill Stockley continues to be a workhorse for the Huskies with her team-high 47.2 innings in the circle.

Freshmen Briana Marcelino and Olivia Sappington will look to lead UConn offensively this weekend as they are two of three Huskies to hit over .300 in the team’s last 10 games. Marcelino is leading the team with a .364 batting average and just recently had a seven-game hitting streak snapped against Kennesaw State. Sappington’s impact continues to be felt as she leads the team with 16 hits, three home runs, a .338 on-base percentage and a .491 slugging percentage.

Drake will look to solidify themselves as contenders in the Missouri Valley Conference when they take on UConn Friday afternoon. The Bulldogs (12-7) are looking to put runs on the board as their lineup has four players hitting over .300 and seven players hitting over .275. Freshman infielder Macy Johnson has had quite the start to her collegiate career as she leads the Bulldogs in batting average (.410), slugging percentage (.538) and on-base percentage (.500).

Winning two of their last three by three runs or more, Pacific will try to put their slow start behind them. The Tigers (8-10) will lean on their bats this weekend and senior Sydney Lahners in particular. Lahners has put up some impressive stats so far this season with six home runs, a .400 batting average, an on-base percentage of .508 and a staggering slugging percentage of .840, all of which lead the team.

Oklahoma State will ride a five-game winning streak into this weekend’s action. The Cowgirls (14-6) have been getting it done both at the plate and in the circle. Freshman infielder Sydney Pennington has dazzled in her debut season for the Cowgirls. Pennington is tied for the team lead in hits (27), leads the team with five home runs and 24 RBI, all while carrying a .397 batting average and a .676 slugging percentage. Sophomore pitcher Logan Simunek (3-0) has been dominant through 10 appearances. Simunek boasts a 0.29 ERA in 24.1 innings pitched and is holding opposing batters to a team-low .194 batting average.

Purdue will try to turn things around on its trip to Oklahoma after a tough start to their season. The Boilermakers (2-16) will rely on their bats as their pitching has been shaky at best thus far. Junior Mallory Baker has been a bright spot this season with her .327 batting average and is leading the team with nine RBI, a .577 slugging percentage and a 453 on-base percentage.

After losing three of their last four, Saint Francis will look to establish themselves as top dogs in the Northeast Conference. Although conference play has yet to start, the Red Flash (11-10) have gotten off to a solid start thanks in part to slugger Madison Cabell. The senior infielder leads the team in home runs (7), RBIs (15) and slugging percentage (.571). Sophomore Abby Trahan has been getting it done in the circle with her 2.85 ERA in 98.1 innings pitched while holding batters to a team low .206 average.

After this weekend’s tournament action concludes, the Huskies will make a quick stop to take on North Texas. The Mean Green (8-8) have dropped four of their last five games and will look to change things around when they take on the Huskies on Tuesday. Sophomore outfielder and slugger Hanna Rebar has been killing it with team-highs with seven home runs and an .805 slugging percentage, to go along with her .293 batting average and 16 RBI.


Kevin Arnold is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at kevin.arnold@uconn.edu.