UConn came out strong against their newest conference rival in Wichita State, but the Shockers’ seven run sixth inning which included three home runs was more than enough to hand the Huskies the loss in their home opener.
This was UConn’s (13-21, 0-4 American) first loss in their home opener in the past three seasons. They were able to beat the Bulldogs of Bryant back in 2016 and earned a win over Boston College just last year.
The Huskies were firing on all cylinders early on as redshirt freshman Olivia Sappington singled to bring home junior Kelli Bates, who had singled earlier in the inning. Senior Ryne Nakama tacked on two more in the third with a two out single, her first RBIs of the season.
“I thought the offense did a nice job of coming out and striking first. That was our goal,” UConn head coach Jen McIntyre said. “We were prepare(d) for what we thought they were going to throw to us.”
Jill Stockley was sharp in the circle through four innings as she only allowed one hit and no runs in addition to striking out four Shockers.
Things got rocky for Stockley after a sacrifice fly from Wichita’s (19-12, 2-2 America) Mackenzie Wright was followed by a pair of two-run long balls from Bailee Nickerson and pitcher Bailey Lange. The junior pitcher’s day ended when freshman Marybeth Olson took over with two outs in the sixth inning. Olson’s appearance was short lived as Katie Koshes had to come in to record the final out of the inning after home runs from Wright and Laurie Derrico, bringing the home run total to three in the inning and five on the day. Koshes also pitched the seventh inning, ending her brief outing with three strikeouts.
Stockley (6-9) ended her team-high 16th start of the season with four strikeouts and five walks, giving up seven runs on five hits in just under six innings in the circle.
Lange pitched a solid five innings for the Shockers, giving up three runs on only four hits and striking out seven Huskies. Sophomore Bailey Klitzke pitched two shutout innings with three strikeouts in relief of Lange.
The Huskies and Shockers will face off in game two of their three game series tomorrow at 4 p.m. at the Burrill Family Field. While inclement weather may be in the forecast, uconnhuskies.com and @UConnSoftball on twitter will provide updates regarding any changes to tomorrow’s start time.
Coach McIntyre and her pitching staff will try to keep the ball in the field tomorrow after giving up five total home runs in today’s action.
“We’ll go back tonight, we’ll look at the film, we’ll see exactly what pitches it was that they hit and we’ll make our adjustments as we come into tomorrow,” McIntyre said.
Kevin Arnold is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.