When faced with the best pitcher in the conference, making errors and forcing your pitcher to throw more than she must is less than ideal. Throughout the season, the UConn softball team’s Achilles heel has been consistency on defense.
“I thought we fought hard, especially today we did a better job of really cleaning up a couple of things,” head coach Jen McIntyre said post-game Friday. “We hung in there, we have been in a lot of one-run ballgames, in position to win late in the game and that is a sign of a team ready to turn the corner.”
In a three-game set this weekend, UConn (16-27, 4-11 The American) was swept by USF (35-15, 13-2 The American). While all three games were competitive, the Huskies were unable to overcome the Bulls’ talented pitching staff. Each game was marked by defensive plays, good and bad.
There were flashes of brilliance defensively, from Kelli Bates’ hose home from left field to complete a double play in the fourth inning of Friday’s game to a diving play at first from Kiwi McDaniel on a line drive to record the first out of the fifth in game one Thursday.
However, there were also many miscues, seven in the series to be exact. In game one of the double-header, UConn committed four errors, and three of the four runs given up were unearned. Third basemen Carissa Brizzi had some difficulty making throws in the first few innings, and one of them led to a run in the second. In game two, it was more of the same as Emily Piergustavo committed an error in the first. Shortstop Briana Marcelino also had some trouble with the glove as she had an error in each game Thursday.
Despite the defensive woes from the left side of the infield, the catchers put on a show Thursday. Devon Casazza and Maura Glatczak gunned down three combined runners and saved a run during the double-header.
“I thought they both did a really nice job,” McIntyre said. “Devon [Casazza] really set the tone the first game, and she did a great job just shutting the run game down and Maura [Glatczak] came in the second game and did a great job. It was nice to keep them off the bases.”
After committing six errors during the double-header Thursday, head coach Jen McIntyre said she was just looking to play clean on Friday. In general, the Huskies were able to, except they could not come back from a first inning error by Ashley Esty in center field.
In Carli Cutler’s absence the third base defense was lack luster, until junior Chloe Kerns came in and acted as the stop-gap Friday. She executed all her plays well and the crowd cheered accordingly.
UConn has given up 28 unearned runs this season and five of them came this series. Of the 10 runs given up this series, half were unearned.
Throughout the season, the Huskies have gone 4-13 in games where they have made more errors than the opponent. It is much more difficult to win a game when you give away free runners to the other team.
Mike Mavredakis is a campus correspondent for the Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.