In a wild weekend that featured excellent pitching, offensive explosions and everything in between, UConn softball (17-30, 3-12 American) lost their series against Memphis (33-16, 8-7 American) two games to one.
The Huskies dropped Game One on Friday 1-0, then lost the first game of the doubleheader on Saturday 8-0 in six innings before rallying to a 10-0 win in the final game to end the weekend on a positive.
“I think we just loosened up and went after it,” head coach Jen McIntyre said. “There was an incredible response in the second game [of the doubleheader] in such a short turnaround.
The weekend didn’t start out on a great note, as the Huskies couldn’t get the bats going in a duel between two of the top pitchers in the American, UConn’s Katie Koshes and Memphis’ Molly Smith.
DH Kiwi McDaniel and right fielder Olivia Sappington were the only two Huskies who were successful against Smith, each recording multi-hit games against the Memphis ace.
Koshes was on top of her game, per usual, striking out eight Tigers and walking none. Memphis freshman Baylee Lee homered off her to right field for the only run scored in the game, but Koshes was otherwise clutch, holding Memphis to 0-7 with runners in scoring position.
“Every pitch has to be thought about, you can’t just throw any strike because that strike might change the whole game,” Koshes said.
Memphis might have been angry that they only scored one run on a team 75 spots below them in RPI, but they exploded on UConn in the first game of the doubleheader on Saturday with an 8-0 win.
Smith was on the hill again for Memphis, only giving up hits to shortstop Briana Marcelino and outfielder Kelli Bates while striking out four Huskies and getting them to ground out in droves.
UConn starter Jill Stockley pitched well early on, holding the Tigers scoreless through three. Stockley gave up one in the fourth and fifth, but things started to unravel in the sixth.
The Huskies were down 2-0 when Stockley loaded up the bases and was then pulled for Chelsea Eckert, who gave up two singles to clear the bases. Eckert was then pulled for Marybeth Olson, who gave up a grand slam to make it 8-0 Memphis, activating the run-rule in place to end the game.
UConn had to have a short memory however, as the next game was just a half an hour after the blowout loss.
That didn’t matter for UConn, as Bates built on her offensive success in the first game going 3-3 with three singles in the 10-0 win.
“It was just having a quick comeback mindset, we didn’t let the first game get to us,” Bates said. “We picked each other up, our coaches had our backs and we just wanted to come out aggressive.”
Bates set the tone of the game on the defensive side of the ball for the Huskies as well, gunning down a runner who was tagging from third to keep Memphis off the board in the bottom of the first, keeping the momentum in the Huskies’ favor.
Marcelino had a somewhat lackluster series up until this point, but she returned to form in the final game, going 2-4 with a three-run homer in the second inning, blowing open the game for UConn.
Sophomore Chloe Kerns added her own homer in the next inning, with another three-run shot to make it 10-0. The Huskies were pretty much on cruise control from there.
UConn starter Koshes was on her game again, this time getting plenty of run support where there wasn’t before, only allowing two runs in her complete game outing.
This was the Huskies’ first conference win on the road this season and the second time this year the Huskies have scored 10 or more runs in a game.
UConn will be back in action this Tuesday at 3:00 p.m., looking to build on their momentum against Bryant in midweek action.
Luke Swanson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.