Softball: UConn takes on potent Wichita State offense

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The Huskies lost to UMass after a ninth inning run, ending with a final score of 8-1. Their next home game is on 4/2 against UMass. (Photo by Eric Wang/The Daily Campus)

UConn softball is coming off of a game in which they scored seven runs and still lost, that kind of offensive production will be needed for wins this weekend. The Huskies will face off against conference foe Wichita State down in Kentucky in the second installment of The American this weekend.

“[We are expecting] a tough series. They are a good team and they have played a tough schedule pre-season,” said head coach Jen McIntyre. “They played Houston hard last weekend, so we are expecting a battle in all three games.”

Wichita State (20-12, 1-2 The American) are in the midst of a three-game losing streak, after dropping the last two games last weekend to Houston and a mid-week game versus Oklahoma State. They feature a strong batting order with top-to-bottom production, a solid pitching staff and a decent defense.

The Shockers have seven qualifiers hitting above .300 and overall hit .306/.412/.472 as a team. Their ability to put the ball in play leads to an average of 5.63 runs per game, whereas UConn puts up just 3.07 per game. They also have five players with more than 20 RBIs through 32 games. As a team they strikeout less than they walk, with 128 walks to just 103 strikeouts.

The key for the Huskies is to rely on Marybeth Olson and Katie Koshes to continue their strong seasons thus far.

Namely this offense has been led by catcher Madison Perrigan and first baseman Neleigh Herring.

Perrigan has hit six bombs this year while driving in 25 runs and scoring 24. The back-stop has also slashed .341/.492/.670 through her 32 games this season. Her high on-base percentage is due to her 23.5 percent walk rate through 119 plate appearances.

Herring has played less, starting just 20 out of her 25 appearances, but she has shown her ability to hit with a .362/.440/.609 slash-line. The sophomore has also hit three homers while driving in 23 runs. It is also of note that she has been hit by more pitches, seven, than times walked, five.

On average, Wichita State’s pitching staff has given up 3.66 runs per game this year. They are a two-pronged attack of sophomores Caitlin Bingham and Erin McDonald.

Bingham threw well this season, with a 3.14 ERA through 80.1 innings of work. However, she does have a tendency to give up walks, as she has given up 59 free passes to just 66 whiffs. Despite her control issues, she has limited hits this year, giving up just a .214 batting average.

McDonald is much better at limiting baserunners, with a 1.22 WHIP through 91 innings. However, her Achilles heel is a tendency to allow home runs, with 13 in 23 appearances.

The Shockers have committed 22 errors through 32 games this year, which have led to 17 unearned runs. However, Perrigan has caught 33 percent of runners who try to steal off of her. So far this season, UConn has been successful on 80 percent of stolen base attempts, with 20 out of 25 swiped.

The Huskies have relied on the offensive production of shortstop Briana Marcelino as of late. The sophomore has already equaled her home run production from last year, with three in the past nine games. She will need to have a big weekend to inspire some further production from an often quite UConn lineup.

The games will start with a 6 p.m. matchup Friday, before a 3 p.m. game Saturday and a 12 p.m. game Sunday down in Wichita.


Mike Mavredakis is a campus correspondent for the Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at michael.quinn-mavredakis@uconn.edu .

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