The Huskies will play their final road games of the season in a weekend series against conference rival ECU.
UConn (16-27, 4-11 The American) has been pretty streaky during the second half of this season. After starting April by winning four of the month’s first five games, it has since lost eight of its last nine.
ECU (21-26, 3-11 The American) has been struggling since the end of March. The Pirates have lost 15 of their last 17 games, many of them coming against American Athletic Conference opponents.
The Pirates have two bats in their lineup that UConn should worry about. Third baseman Rachel McCollum leads the team in batting average (.326), slugging percentage (.523), RBI (37) and total bases (69). First baseman Tate McClellan leads the team in home runs (9), is second in RBI (34) and third in slugging (.449) and total bases (57).
As for baserunning threats, leadoff batter Tyler King has been one of the top base stealers in the AAC with her 15 successful attempts on 21 tries, good for third in the conference. The quick centerfielder also has the second highest batting average on the team (.321).
ECU operates with a two-pitcher staff, with Erin Poepping and Whitney Sanford combining for just short of 300 innings pitched this season. Poepping’s sheer volume has given her big numbers, as she leads the conference in innings pitched (195.0), appearances (39), starts (29) and losses (16), while being second in strikeouts (149) and third in wins (14). Expect to see a lot of Poepping and Sanford this weekend.
As for the Huskies’ pitchers, Jill Stockley seemed to find her groove in the most recent series against USF. Though Stockley went 0-2 against the No. 1 team in the conference, she threw 10.1 total innings, giving up eight hits, nine walks and one earned run with six strikeouts. After a shaky start to the season, the senior seems to have her confidence back on the rubber.
Marybeth Olson threw 10 innings in that USF series, giving up four earned runs on seven hits with four walks and nine strikeouts. While she still generated swings and misses, the talented USF lineup made her pay with a deep ball. As long as Olson keeps the ball in the yard, the sophomore is as good as any ace in the conference.
UConn will look to find their offense in this series after scoring one run twice and zero runs three times over the last seven games. Head coach Jen McIntyre has been getting creative with the lineups recently, opting to use Reese Guevarra in the leadoff spot the past two series.
“I like having a little bit of punch at the top of the order. Reese has a little bit of power and she’s been seeing the ball well,” McIntyre said.
She has also been moving the middle of the order around, hitting the typical three-hitter Briana Marcelino second and second baseman Alexis Lemus third in their last game. Perhaps shaking things up is what the Huskies need to score more runs.
The series will begin Friday night at 6 p.m. with game two on Saturday at 2 p.m. and game three Sunday at noon.
Sean Janos is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com