The UConn softball team took on UMass Lowell (UML) in its home opener at Burrill Family Field, losing 8-7 after nine innings of play.
Due to some classic Connecticut March weather, snow prevented the Huskies from getting any time on Burrill prior to this game.
“This was our first day on the field, we haven’t even practiced on it yet,” head coach Jen McIntyre said. “It’s always nice to be home.”
Being back at home inspired UConn to put a lot of runs on the board, which is something it has struggled with early this season. This was the fifth time through 26 games that the Huskies have scored seven or more runs.
However, trying to protect a 7-4 lead, reliever Kylie Gavitt and the Huskies gave up three runs in the top of the seventh to take the game into extra innings. UMass Lowell scored the go-ahead run off of Marybeth Olson in the top of the ninth and retired the side to steal the win.
“I thought she [Olson] came in and did a pretty good job. She spun the ball pretty well and she threw hard, especially late in the game like that,” McIntyre said.
The team’s youth likely played a role in allowing three runs in the top of the seventh. Gavitt is a freshman who had only seen two innings of work prior to this appearance. She came in the top of the fifth in relief of Katie Koshes, who started the game and allowed four runs. Though Gavitt’s first two innings were sharp, she was unable to record an out in her third inning of work.
“We have a young team that’s still trying to find a way to close games out,” McIntyre said.
An error by sophomore shortstop Briana Marcelino put the leadoff batter on, and Gavitt was unable to shake it off. Gavitt went on to load the bases and walk a run across before McIntyre opted to go with the sophomore Olson in relief.
As we near the midway point of the season, McIntyre will need to get her young team acclimated to closing out close games, especially at home.
This was UConn’s first game in cold weather this season, while UMass Lowell previously had a chance to play some cold weather ball against Yale in New Haven. This also could have played a role in both teams’ ability to keep the quality of play up as the sun went down and temperatures dropped.
Next on the slate for UConn is a three game series against Wichita State down in Kansas. This will be the Huskies’ second series against a conference opponent this season. Their first was last weekend against UCF, who dealt UConn a three game sweep, so the Huskies will look to amend their 0-3 conference record. The first game of the series will be Friday at 6 p.m.
Sean Janos is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached at email@example.com.