After a nearly two-week break, the UConn softball team will be back in action this weekend for another five-game set. This time, the Huskies will take their talents to the West Coast to play in the Capital Classic, hosted by UC Davis and Sacramento State.
UConn (8-2) will be looking for a repeat of its performance at the Spring Games, where the team went 5-0 against Stetson, Central Michigan and Purdue. This time, the Huskies will be taking on Santa Clara, UC Davis, St. Mary’s and Sacramento State.
The team begins its weekend series with a doubleheader at La Rue Field in Davis, California on Friday. The Huskies will play Santa Clara at noon EST and UC Davis at 2:30 p.m. Then, they will go to Shea Stadium in Sacramento for a doubleheader on Saturday against Santa Clara and St. Mary’s at noon and 2:30 p.m. Finally, on Sunday, UConn will play its fifth and final game against Sacramento State on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Shea Stadium.
Santa Clara out of the West Coast Conference enters the weekend with a 7-8 record, most recently losing to San Jose State on Wednesday. UConn has played the Broncos once before, losing 3-0 back in 2016, and that is the only opponent out of the four that UConn has any history with.
Santa Clara is led on offense by Sammy Needham, who is batting .455 with 20 hits in the 15 games so far. Their top pitcher is Regan Dias, who is 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA in 20 innings pitched.
UC Davis from the Big West Conference also has a 7-8 record, although they are 4-1 at home, where the Huskies will be playing them. The Aggies have lost three straight games heading into the weekend.
For the Aggies, Alyse Rojas is the player to watch for, as she’s had a scorching hot start to her 2020 season. She’s batting .545 with 30 hits, four home runs, 13 RBIs and an astounding 1.474 OPS. She leads a fierce lineup that has scored 89 runs and hit 17 home runs, but UC Davis’s pitching hasn’t been as great. Their top pitcher is Kenedi Brown, who has a 3.43 ERA in 34.1 innings.
For St. Mary’s — another WCC team — it’s been a tough season so far. The Gaels sit at just 4-12 and lost three out of four last weekend as the host of their own event. But players like Maddie Gallagher and Halle Sullivan have still had good seasons at the plate. Gallagher leads the team with a .317 batting average and 13 hits, while Sullivan leads St. Mary’s with a .882 OPS and 10 RBIs. Both players have hit two home runs.
Finally, Sacramento State out of the Big Sky Conference will likely be the toughest task for the Huskies. The Hornets are 10-6 and have won four straight games, including one over UC Davis on Wednesday.
Sacramento State has the best pitching staff that UConn will face this weekend with a team ERA of just 2.45. All the pitchers except one have ERAs of 3.00 and under, but none have lower than Marissa Bertuccio’s 2.15 mark. The Hornets aren’t all pitching, though. Haley Hanson, Mo Speith and Alondra Mejia are all dangerous hitters in a lineup that bats .311 as a whole with 85 runs scored. The Hornets are the team most likely to give UConn some trouble.
However, UConn matches up well with all these teams and could very well come home with another weekend sweep. Marybeth Olson and Meghan O’Neil have carried the pitching staff with ridiculous ERAs of 0.76 and 0.95, respectively. It’s unrealistic to expect them to continue that level of dominance, but as long as they’re providing quality innings, the Huskies should be in good shape.
At the plate, Aziah James has been great out of the leadoff spot, leading the team with a .432 batting average and 16 hits, while Kiwi McDaniel and Briana Marcelino have been key contributors in the middle of the lineup, driving in 16 runs combined.
The Huskies have been really good so far, and they’re not facing any teams they can’t handle this weekend. So UConn could be set for another dominant weekend.