Softball: Opening weekend washed out

Megan O’Neil pitching during a game against Boston College on Oct. 6, 2019. The University of Connecticut Huskies traveled to Conway, S.C. for their opening weekend series beginning Friday, Feb. 11. Photo by Brandon Barzola/The Daily Campus.

After nearly 11 months of waiting, the UConn Huskies returned to play some softball, heading down to Conway, S.C., for a weekend series. 

The Huskies (0-0) were set to play four games this weekend, one against Ohio, one against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers and two against the No. 23 ranked Tennessee Volunteers. 

However, that return lasted only 4+ innings as their first game against the University of Ohio Bobcats was washed out before the rest of the series was cancelled as well due to heavy rain. 

Despite the lack of results to report, there was some gameplay that happened from the first weekend.  

In the first inning of work, starter Meghan O’Neil was able to shut down the top of the order as she got Allie Englant to ground out to the mound, Katie Yun to fly out and Alexis Dawe to foul out. 

In the bottom half, Aziah James singled up the middle and was able to steal second, but she could go no further as Madi McCrady struck out the next two hitters swinging. 

Runs were scored in the top of the second as Caroline Spacek drove in two runs on a two-out single in a series of events that included loading the bases on two walks, a hit-by-pitch and a fielder’s choice to home plate. 

The Huskies would then cut the lead in half as a double by Jana Sanden turned into a run following a groundout to first by Lauren Benson. But before the Huskies could add anything else, Emily Piergustavo struck out swinging to end the frame. 

The Huskies would respond with two quick outs and almost got out of the inning cleanly. But a throwing error by Briana Marcelino gave the Bobcats an extra spark. A double by Mikenzie Vaughn and a single by Caitlin Fogue expanded the Bobcat lead to three runs. 

After getting a groundout with runners on first and second, the Huskies would need to respond. In the bottom half of the third, they did just that as a single by Reese Guevarra and a full count walk by James set up a perfect opportunity. 

On a 1-0 pitch, Sami Barnett launched a softball beyond the outfield for a three-run home run that tied the game at four. The Huskies could not muster anything more that inning, but they had more coming their way. 

In the top of the fourth inning, the Bobcats managed to get two runners on base, but stranded them both as Molly Troutman struck out with an opportunity to give the Bobcats the lead back. 

In the bottom half, a single by Benson almost left her stranded, but the Huskies were bailed out by a throwing error from Annalia Paoli. Guevarra capitalized immediately with a two-run double. 

Before the inning could end, James singled then stole her second base of the game, which was followed by a Barnett popout not long after.  

In the top of the fifth inning, O’Neil surrendered a walk to Vaughn, which is when the rain started to fall in Conway. 

The game was delayed for about five hours, which included removing and then putting the tarp back on the field. Ultimately, the rain led to unplayable conditions and the series was outright cancelled. 

Unfortunately, none of the stats from this game are going to count as the game was cancelled, but I think it just makes sense to include them anyway. 

Starting with the Bobcats, McCrady went 4.0 innings, surrendering six runs (four earned) on seven hits, one walk and five strikeouts. Their star bat was Vaughn, who got on base every time she was at the plate, going 1-1 with two walks and a run batted in. 

For the Huskies, O’Neil went 4+ innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on six hits, three walks and a strikeout. The best hitting performance of the day goes to Barnett, who’s three-run homerun sparked an incredible rally for UConn as they “won” this game. 

Things are subject to change within the coming days, but next weekend the Huskies travel down to Fort Myers, Fla. for another tournament/invitational.  

In that series, they will face the Northern Illinois Huskies on Friday, the Florida International Golden Panthers on Friday and Saturday and then the host Florida Gulf Coast Eagles on Saturday and Sunday. 

Here’s to better weather and more exciting softball. 

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