After a number of schedule changes as a result of some early spring New England weather, UConn managed to end their losing streak and secure their first conference series win over softball UCF. The two teams split their Saturday afternoon doubleheader and the Huskies took the rubber match on Sunday.
Game 1 of the double header did not go as planned for the Huskies (15-24, 2-7 the American) as they took an 8-3 loss to conference foe UCF (26-15, 6-3 the American). UCF’s Alea White picked up her 20th win of the season in her complete game effort, striking out 10 batters and only walking one.
Jill Stockley picked up her 11th loss of the season. Stockley hurled five and two-thirds innings, giving up eight hits and 12 runs. She struck out five while walking three and left five runners on base.
UConn trailed early in game one before tying things up at two runs apiece in the third inning. With the bases loaded, Carli Cutler brought one in after getting hit by a pitch and Olivia Sappington added another after drawing a walk.
The Knights took control again in the fourth inning with an Erin Emanuel RBI double. UCF put the game out of reach in the sixth inning after they putting up a five spot that included a three-run bomb off the bat of Cassady Brewer.
The sophomores shined and dominated for the Huskies in Game 2 on Saturday afternoon. Katie Koshes tossed a dominant complete game where she struck out 11 batters and allowed just one earned run (three runs total). She ended the day with a total of 14 strikeouts after ringing up three in her one and a third innings of relief in game one. In Game 2, she gave up only two hits and stranded seven runners.
“Honestly just working every corner and changing it up every inning so it kept them on their toes and definitely just relied on defense and the bats,” Koshes said on what allowed her to really dominate.
Chloe Kerns “just let loose and had fun” in her start as the designated player in Game 2, going an impressive 3-3 at the plate while knocking in three runs and scoring one herself. Kerns and the rest of the Huskies were able to knock out pitcher Alea White after just one and two-thirds innings of work in her second start of the day.
The Huskies took a 4-0 lead in the second inning and never looked back. The Knights battled early, cutting the lead to just two runs but UConn’s bats wouldn’t quit, putting up a four run fourth inning with the help of RBI singles from both Olivia Sappington and Kerns once again.
Lively bats and poor fielding by UCF allowed the Huskies to seal an 11-3 mercy rule win after putting up five more runs in the fifth inning. Although UConn scored 11, only three runs were earned after an abysmal four errors were committed by the Knights. This was a much needed confidence booster for a UConn team that had previously dropped eight straight.
“I think it was really important just for the team morale [and] kinda have that confidence boost because we’ve been struggling so knowing we can beat anyone at any time and that we can unleash on anyone,” Kerns said after the impressive win.
“I thought the offense did a nice job [of] really putting good barrels on a lot of good pitches today,” UConn head coach Jen McIntyre said. “We made some adjustments throughout the day. I thought Katie threw a great game in the second game. [She] really hit her spots and got them to miss a lot.”
UConn rode the wave of momentum from Saturday afternoon into Sunday’s rubber match with the Knights. The offense exploded for three home runs in the game while Katie Koshes (3-4) picked up her second consecutive win.
Koshes brought her weekend strikeout total to 22 after fanning eight batters in her complete game effort. The second year lefty allowed only one run on four hits and left eight Knights stranded.
“She did a nice job of just hitting her spots and spinning the ball really tight,” McIntyre said on Koshes’ performance. “For her to go through their order seven or eight times in the past two days, she was lights-out.”
Chloe Kerns kept her bat hot after her 4-for-4 effort on Saturday. The sophomore put the Huskies ahead early with a solo shot, her first of the season. UConn’s lead went to two runs after a UCF fielding error in the third inning.
After cutting the lead to just one, Sappington launched a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth to bring her season total to a team high six. Carli Cutler launched one herself in the sixth to secure a 5-1 victory for the Huskies. Freshman Briana Marcelino had herself a day as well, going 3-for-3 at the plate with two doubles.
UConn picked up their first two wins at home this year as well as their first ever series win over UCF. Looking to build off their impressive weekend, the Huskies will head on the road when they face Boston College at 4 p.m. on Wednesday later this week.
Kevin Arnold is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.