The UConn softball team was back in Florida this weekend to compete in the Spring Games. The Huskies came out on top in all five of their games, beating Central Michigan, Stetson and Purdue en route to winning the Spring Games in sweeping fashion. UConn allowed just eight runs over 36 innings while batting in 32 of their own, looking impressive on both sides of the field and continuing their great start to the season.
The festivities began Friday, with UConn (8-2) taking on Central Michigan (0-5) and Stetson in the Sunshine State. The Huskies got to work immediately, shutting out the Chippewas 8-0 behind great performances from Aziah James, Briana Marcelino and Marybeth Olson, who went 2-2 on the day while pitching the team’s first no-hitter of the year.
After serving a quick 1-2-3 inning, Olson found herself at the plate with two runners in scoring position. The junior ace hit a single up the middle, bringing in both runs to open the scoring for the Huskies. UConn struck again in the third after Marcelino hit her first homerun of the year, extending UConn’s lead to four. After another score in the bottom of the fourth and RBIs from James, Kiwi McDaniel and Devon Casazza, the Huskies enforced the mercy rule, ending the game after just five innings. This was Olson’s third win of the season and first no-hitter, picking up right where she left off with her strong season last year.
Next up for UConn was a matchup against Stetson University (5-4). The Huskies kept in rhythm, completing their second shutout in as many games, this time beating the Hatters 7-0, once again spearheaded by strong performances from James and Marcelino along with Meghan O’Neil’s third win of the season.
Just like in its earlier game, UConn got off to an early lead in this one, with Marcelino and McDaniel each knocking in a run. They added two more in the second with a two-RBI single from Marcelino, extending their lead to four, and through three innings held a 4-0 lead while O’Neil kept the Hatters hitless. O’Neil’s no-hitter came to a halt after four innings, but UConn kept rolling, as three more runs in the seventh sealed the game and the second win of the day for the Huskies.
Things picked back up Saturday with a rematch against Stetson. This time the game was much closer, going to extra innings before UConn scored the walk-off run in the bottom of the ninth. Through seven innings the score was tied at 1-1 before things got interesting in the top of the eighth. The Hatters put together a two-run inning, but the Huskies were quick to respond, as steals coming from Carli Cutler and Ashley Esty put UConn one run behind with Hollis Wivell coming up. Wivell did what she was brought up to do, hitting a liner to right center, sending Cutler home and tying the game once again. After giving up another run in the ninth, Marcelino came up big again, hitting a double to right field to score James and Marcelino and seal the victory.
UConn wrapped up day two with another convincing 9-3 win against Central Michigan. The Huskies put up a combined seven runs in the first two innings, including five in the first, to create separation and never looked back. Samantha Barnett brought home James, Cutler scored Barnett and after Olivia Sappington scored, Casazza knocked in Ashlee Dahman and Cutler to top off UConn’s impressive five-run first inning. Both teams would score a few more runs on the day, but the Huskies’ win was never in doubt, as Katie Koshes earned her first win of the season and they remained undefeated heading into their final test against Purdue Sunday.
The Huskies got off to a good start against the Boilermakers, as Reese Guevarra hit her first homerun of the season in the first, giving UConn the early lead. Purdue responded quickly though after Madison Douglass hit a homerun — her second of the year — to tie the game. UConn’s Olson and Purdue’s Sydney Bates would both hold their opponents scoreless for the next five innings, and the game was sent into extra innings, the second such game for the Huskies in three games. But as had been the case all weekend, James came up clutch when it mattered most.
After Cutler got into scoring position to start the eighth inning, James hit a single to right field, scoring the senior and giving UConn the lead, but they were not done there. On the very next at bat, Dahman hit another single to right field, sending James all the way around the diamond to extend their lead to 3-1. Olson took care of the rest, shutting down the Boilermakers offense in the bottom of the eighth, earning her fifth win of the season and handing Bates her first loss.
After this weekend, the Huskies sit at 8-2, their best start to a season since 2007, and have won their last seven games. They will now have two weeks off before they head to California to compete in the Capital Classic starting Friday, Feb. 28 and ending March 1.