How do you get the bats going amidst a team-wide slump? Meeting with the greatest product in program history certainly can’t hurt.
The Huskies’ trip to Texas got off to a good start on Thursday, as the team met with former Husky and World Series MVP George Springer at the Astros’ Minute Maid Park. Springer talked with the team and showed them around the facilities. The Huskies hope Springer’s elite swing will rub off on a lineup that has struggled mightily as of late to bring runners home.
It’s been a frustrating stretch as of late for UConn. Baserunners haven’t been the issue; the Huskies have averaged nine combined hits and walks in their last four games. But they’ve scored more than two runs in just one of those four games.
On Wednesday against URI, the team was just 2-of-13 with runners in scoring position, an ugly but familiar weakness for the Huskies this season. They loaded the bases with no outs twice, and came away with just one run to show for it.
“We don’t have a pill for it, we don’t have a sign for get a hit, and if we did, I think they’d squeeze the bats even harder,” head coach Jim Penders said on the team’s recent struggles with runners in scoring position. “We’re just putting too much pressure on ourselves…I wish I had answers for it.”
Perhaps, in addition to Springer’s visit, a return south will reignite the UConn bats. The Huskies have won four of six games played in the Lonestar State this season, taking two of three from both Texas State and Houston. Interestingly, Sam Houston State played Houston last time out, losing 3-9 on Tuesday, their third loss to the neighboring Cougars this year.
On Wednesday, UConn (25-16, 7-8 The American) bounced back from a demoralizing sweep to ECU with a 2-1 nailbiter over URI. The Huskies are now 18-8 against nonconference opponents this season, but sit in just fifth place in the conference standings.
Sam Houston (22-16, 14-7 Southland) is coming off a rough eight-game road trip in which the Bearkats went 2-6. However, the Kats have proved to be a tough team to beat at home, accumulating an 11-4 record at Don Sanders Stadium.
If the UConn bats continue to slump, the pitching staff will be counted on to slow the intimidating SHSU lineup. Five Bearkats currently have batting averages north of .300, led by senior catcher Jordan Cannon’s ridiculous .392 mark in 35 starts. Jack Rogers and Colton Cowser bring the pop, leading the team in home runs (8) and RBI (37) respectively.
The ace of the Sam Houston staff is junior Hayden Wesnecki, who’s 6-1 with a 3.11 ERA. He’ll likely take the mound opposite of Mason Feole, who has battled through an up-and-down season to a 1-3 record and a 3.56 ERA.
Game 1 begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and will be streamed on ESPN+. Game 2 is slated for Saturday at 4 p.m., followed by the series finale on Sunday at noon. All games can be found on 91.7 FM WHUS.
Andrew Morrison is the associate sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com. He tweets at @asmor24