After 25 games on the road, the UConn softball team will make its first trip home Wednesday to face off against UMass Lowell.
UConn (9-16, 0-3 The American) has faced ups and downs through the early season and is looking to bounce back from a disappointing showing in its first conference series this past weekend. The Huskies dropped three straight close games to UCF down in Florida.
UMass Lowell (10-12) last played March 19 when they swept a double-header against Yale. They are powered by four main players: Infielder Courtney Cashman, outfielder Sydney Barker and pitchers Lovina Capria and Kaysee Talcik.
Cashman has produced this year, plain and simple. The shortstop is leading the nation in batting average (.582) and on-base percentage (.633). Cashman has an OPS of 1.708 with seven home runs, 21 RBIs and 19 runs scored in 22 games played. She has more total bases than at-bats, with 72 in just 67 at-bats. She walks at a 14 percent clip (11 in 78 plate appearances). Cashman also does not strike out—she has just three whiffs on the season. Her offensive game lives up to her name, it’s cash, man.
Once the Huskies get by the human hit machine, there is hope. They will have to be careful with outfielder Sydney Barker, who is slashing .383/.420/.660 with four home runs and 13 RBIs.
The rest of the River Hawks are hitting just .192, and the next highest every-day producer after Cashman and Barker is Casey Harding, who is hitting .234/.329/.281. Harding has knocked in just five runners this year and has struck out in 25 percent of her at-bats.
UMass Lowell features two main pitchers who have thrown a bulk of the innings this season.
In 68 innings this season, Capria has posted a 2.37 ERA but a less-than-impressive WHIP of 1.44. The sophomore has struck out 38, or 3.91 per seven innings pitched. Capria has walked 23 batters so far and posts a subpar 1.65 K/BB ratio.
Talcik has struck out just 20 in 58.2 innings to go along with her 3.22 ERA and 1.51 WHIP. She is striking out just 2.4 batters per seven innings, which is substantially less than her career mark of 4.26 going into the season.
Defensively, UMass Lowell has struggled. They have committed 33 errors in 22 games, which have led to 24 unearned runs. For a team that does not strike out many batters—just under three per game—defense is key. The River Hawks have turned 11 double plays in 22 games, or one every two games.
UConn’s offense has had two identities this year: It’s either nonexistent or it’s going to score eight runs. In 13 of their 25 games, the Huskies have scored two or less runs. To overcome a team with the leading hitter in the country, a category she leads by 65 points, UConn will simply need to score.
The game will start at 3 p.m. at Burrill Family Field on Wednesday.
Mike Mavredakis is a campus correspondent for the Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .