In a game where she went 0-for-4 through 11 innings, Carli Cutler made an impact. The small things she does on the field add up; the high-fives, the words of encouragement and the post-out dances with outfielder Kelli Bates are key moments that help inspire the players around her.
It was Cutler who brought the team together in the late innings for a ra-ra speech and it was Cutler who drew the walk that sparked the sixth inning rally to tie up the game 1-1. Even without the benefit of a hit to her name, she made her presence known.
“I am playing my best when I am leading in my own way and I find when I may be a little off that day my leadership is what gets me through,” said Cutler. “That is how I live every moment of my life, whether that is on or off the field, I want to be the best person I can be for my teammates every day. If I am not necessarily preforming at the plate, I know I can give my leadership on the field and that is one way I can contribute.”
Tuesday UConn (20-27, 7-11 The American) walked off against Quinnipiac on an 11th inning single to left field off the bat of shortstop Briana Marcelino. The base knock drove home center fielder Ashley Esty, who had stolen two bases earlier in the at-bat.
In the sixth inning, Cutler’s one-out base on balls put a runner on first and jump-started the walk-a-thon by the Bobcats’ reliever Lauren King. While pinch runner Aziah James would be forced at second, King’s control would not return for three more hitters.
“She’s a great teammate and a great leader,” said head coach Jen McIntyre. “She has a lot of energy and she is the one who sets the tone for everybody, so it is great to have her back.”
The third basemen had been down with an undisclosed injury until this past weekend, when upon her return, UConn softball earned their first series sweep in McIntyre’s history here, against ECU.
“She is a great leader for us, obviously as one of our captains,” said McIntyre. “She really embraces her role and has done a nice job.”
Cutler has also contributed in the late innings this season, as she hit two home runs after the sixth inning in a weekend series versus Memphis earlier this month.
Defensively Cutler has made plays consistently, as she has just four errors on the season. Of those four errors, three came in one game against Boston College. She has made the least errors of the starting infield players. In her absence, the defense at third base was lack luster at times.
No single team member wins or loses a game, but as a teammate she supports those around her and has shown willingness to step up and lead.
“I am better when I have people around encouraging me, so I think something I can do for my teammates is to encourage them every single moment of the game,” said Cutler. “Whether that is in between pitches, during a pitch, in the dugout or after an inning. Regardless if they made a play or not, to me everyone is doing something every moment and it is important that they feel highlighted and recognized.”
Cutler will look to continue to contribute this weekend in the last conference series of the season versus Tulsa.
Mike Mavredakis is a campus correspondent for the Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .