After 26 straight road games, the UConn softball team finally got a chance to play at the Burrill Family Field for the first time this season.
However, it didn’t go exactly as planned, as they fell to the UMass Lowell River Hawks 8-7 in extra innings.
“It was a tough ballgame on both sides,” head coach Jen McIntyre said. “I thought they hit the ball well, I thought we hit the ball well…We’ve got a young team that’s still trying to find a way to close games out.”
After a scoreless first and trading runs in both the second and third, the River Hawks’ shortstop and 3-hole hitter Courtney Cashman gave them their first true lead of the game, crushing a home run right over the right field fence to make it 4-2. Cashman would go 1-1 with five walks, two before the home run and three after.
UConn starting pitcher Katie Koshes would finish the inning but that was all, as McIntyre brought on freshman Kylie Gavitt in the top of the fifth.
“She’s worked really hard, she’s been having really good bullpens, when she came in last week on spring break she did a really good job,” McIntyre said. “She keeps the ball down and that’s what we’re looking for, someone who can change planes in that situation.”
Gavitt was dominant in her first inning of work, sending the River Hawks back to the dugout in order. In turn, the offense stepped up and did their part, plating five in the bottom half of the innings.
After two walks and a single to lead off the inning and Briana Marcelino stepping to the plate, UMass Lowell starter Kaysee Talcik was pulled for Lovina Capria. Her first matchup could not have gone any worse, and after a passed ball let Ashlee Dahman score from third and both other runners advance, Marcelino put the ball right over the left-center field wall to give the Huskies their first lead of the game and make it 6-4. They would pick up one more run thanks to some small ball that cumulated in pinch hitter Carissa Brizzi driving in Kiwi McDaniel on a fielder’s choice and take a 7-4 lead.
Gavitt did get into some trouble in the top of the sixth, however she was able to prevent any damage and strand the bases loaded. However, that was not the case in the top of the seventh, as with only three outs to go and a 3-run lead, after an error and back-to-back singles the Huskies found themselves in a bases loaded jam with no outs. Gavitt would get one more batter and ended up walking in a run.
On came the Huskies’ best pitcher so far this season, Marybeth Olson. She would give up a RBI single to the first batter she faced to cut the lead to one, and after finally recording the first out of the inning with a strikeout gave up the tying run on a sacrifice fly to shallow right, with the UMass runner just getting her hand in before the tag. After walking Cashman to load the bases, Olson struck out Maria Moccio and the Huskies stranded the bases loaded for the second straight inning.
However, the damage was done.
The Huskies were kept scoreless in the bottom of the seventh and both sides couldn’t get anything going in the eighth; however, UMass Lowell managed to break through again in the top of the ninth. The River Hawks had just a runner on first with two outs; however, following back-to-back walks to load the bases, the Huskies found themselves in the exact same situation they were in just two innings earlier — bases loaded, two outs and Maria Moccio at the plate.
This time, she didn’t miss, ripping a single to left field to give the River Hawks a 8-7 lead.
Olson would stop the bleeding there, but once again, the damage was done.
The Huskies were unable to get anything going in the bottom half of the innings, and Olivia Sappington struck out looking to complete the collapse.
This was the Huskies’ fourth straight loss, and they now drop to 9-17 on the season.
They will be back in action soon, with a three-game series against the Wichita State Shockers starting Friday as the Huskies look to pick up their first conference win of the season.
Jorge Eckardt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.