The Huskies are going to New Orleans. No, not for Mardi Gras, but for a three-game series with the University of New Orleans (5-4).
UConn (3-3) is somehow still unranked after taking two of three against the No. 1 Michigan Wolverines last weekend in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The Huskies also took another win against then-No. 8 Michigan the weekend prior in Arizona.
After the first weekend of games, UConn’s fielding was their glaring weakness. They committed 10 errors through three games, and coach Jim Penders described it as “not playing good catch in the infield.”
UConn cleaned it up a bit last weekend, committing just four errors through those three games. You give yourself a steeper uphill battle against the top teams like Michigan and Vanderbilt when you’re sloppy in the field, but it would be frustrating if that’s what costs you the game against someone like New Orleans.
UNO’s lineup has been pretty top heavy to start the season. DH Pearce Howard has been the biggest bat in the lineup. He is 10-for-35 with a team-high two home runs and 11 RBIs this season. In their most recent game against city-rivals Tulane, he went 3-for-6 with a double and two RBIs.
The two set-up guys that hit before Howard have done a good job of setting the table for the slugger. Outfielders Jamarian Crain and Gaige Howard bat at the top of UNO’s lineup, and have been getting on base a lot this season.
Together they went 5-for-11 in that Tulane game, and hit a combined 12-for-23 in last weekend’s series against Arkansas State. They scored 12 runs in those four games alone.
But the highest batting average on the team belongs to the cleanup batter, Luther Woullard. He is batting .324 (12-for-37) with six RBIs and five walks. Woullard, Crain and Howard are a combined 4-for-4 stealing bases this season.
As for UNO’s pitching, it’s been solid lately. They’ve only surrendered two crooked numbers in the last five games, with three of their starters sporting ERAs under 2.00. Brandon Mitchell threw 5.2 shutout innings against Tulane, giving up just three hits. His ERA this season is down to 0.77, and should be available to play against UConn by Saturday.
The other two starters, Bailey Holstein and Chris Turpin, have thrown 11.1 and 11.0 innings this season with ERAs of 1.59 and 1.64, respectively.
In Holstein’s most recent start against Arkansas State he threw 6.1 innings, allowing just one run on two hits. He struck out four and walked two. In Turpin’s start against the same opponents, he threw 5.0 innings, giving up two runs on five hits with five strikeouts.
New Orleans certainly isn’t up there with the likes of Michigan and Vanderbilt, but they aren’t to be taken lightly. UConn will go in with the aspirations of a sweep, but I’m sure they’d be happy taking two of three.
The first game of the series will be Friday night at 7:30 p.m. The second will be Saturday at 3 p.m., and the third and final will be Sunday at 1 p.m.