After 31 games on the road, the Huskies finally played a home game on Wednesday. If the pitching was any indication, UConn felt quite comfortable on their home field in the double header against Bryant.
Sophomore Chelsea Eckert pitched a complete game in a mercy rule shortened 15-2 game, but her teammate Kayla Doty was even more dominant, throwing a complete game shutout in a 2-0 win in the first game.
It wasn’t the junior pitcher’s first dominant outing of the season. She now holds a 4-2 record on the season and has surrendered only three earned runs in her last 20 innings of work. She shut out Memphis in a conference win last week and pitched another six strong innings the next day in a rematch.
“Honestly, I’m just trying to focus on each pitch and have some fun,” Doty said. “That’s all I’m trying to do is have some fun.”
Doty dominated the Bryant hitters from start to finish. She had a no-hitter through five innings and gave up only two hits, both in the sixth inning.
“I looked at the scoreboard, which I shouldn’t have, in the fifth inning and saw that I had a no-hitter and then came out the next inning and gave up a hit,” Doty said.
After struggling at times in her first two seasons, Doty believes a new pitch has been key to her success so far this season.
“I went over the summer and I picked up a new pitch. Instead of keeping the ball up I bring it down now, so I throw a drop,” said Doty.
The right-hander’s ability to deceive hitters without overpowering them was evident on Wednesday. Doty did not record a strikeout, despite her dominance. She pitched to contact and let her defense do the work behind her. UConn committed four errors in the game, but Doty was able to limit the damage by forcing weak contact.
“I was just trying to get the first batter out and once they got players on I was just trying to work it out and let my defense do the work,” she said.
UConn head coach Jen McIntyre is happy with the effort Doty put in to add another pitch to her arsenal in the offseason.
“She worked really really hard to develop another pitch and using that pitch spontaneously in those spots has really elevated her game,” McIntyre said.
McIntyre also thinks Doty’s mindset is different this season.
“The biggest thing for her is her mindset’s totally different. She’s a competitor and you can see it when she’s on the mound,” she said. “She feeds off of her defense and she just feeds outs. I think that’s the biggest change for her this season.”
Doty is a key cog in an improved pitching staff that has given the Huskies a different look this season. Freshman Jill Stockley has four wins of her own and sports an impressive 2.69 ERA early in her college career. Eckert improved to a 4.18 ERA on Wednesday and leads the staff with six wins. There’s no question that UConn’s pitching depth is a welcome addition to a team looking to make some noise in the American Athletic Conference this season.
Aaron Esposito is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering softball. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.