Following the rainout of the Coastal Carolina Invitational last weekend, the UConn Women’s Softball Team played their first games of the season as part of the FGCU Softball Tournament this weekend.
They played a total of five games, one against Northern Illinois University and two against both Florida International University and Florida Gulf Coast University. They picked up where they left off last season for the most part, beating the Northern Illinois Huskies and the Florida International Panthers in their first three games, before dropping two games in a row to the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles.
The Huskies first game, against the Huskies of Northern Illinois, was not a close one. UConn held the lead the entire game after a run in the first inning, a run they’d later add six more to, while Northern Illinois was only able to grab one run in the bottom of the fifth.
The Huskies impressive opening performance was supported by freshman pitcher Payton Kinney, who played all seven innings and gave up four hits and one run. The offensive effort for UConn was led by Redshirt-Junior Sami Barnett, who had a pair of runs and RBI’s as well as a home run to help guide UConn to the 7-1 victory.
The second game on Friday, against the Panthers, was much closer. The Huskies lagged behind early after the Panthers scored two in the second, but managed to get their own two in the fifth. The game went into overtime, where both teams scored a third run in the eighth, but the Huskies were also able to score in the bottom of the ninth and claim a 4-3 victory.
That effort was led by an impressive performance by catcher Devon Casazza, who had a sacrifice fly which scored in the fifth and another in the ninth which scored the game winning run. Pitcher Meghan O’Neil claimed her first win of the season, striking out three and allowing four hits and two runs in nine innings.
On Saturday, the Huskies played another game against the Panthers and their first game against the Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast University, who was hosting the event. The Huskies claimed another victory over the Panthers, this one in regular time as they won with a three to one scoreline.
Kinney pitched her way to her second victory in collegiate softball, allowing three hits and one run in seven innings where she also claimed six strikeouts. Her second impressive performance in a row was bolstered by her teammates Taylor Zatyk and Jana Sanden who both excelled offensively. Sanden brought in a home run and two RBI’s, while Zatyk had two runs and a double.
In the second Saturday game, the Huskies faced off against the Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast University. It was their first loss of the season as they fell to the Eagles after scoring just one run while giving up three.
The sole run for the Huskies came from senior Briana Marcelino on a single from Hollis Wivell, but the pitching squad of Kinney and O’Neil were unable to avoid giving up three runs early and that was a gap that the Huskies could never close.
The Huskies played just one game on Sunday before they flew back, against the Eagles once again. The game was substantially closer than Saturday’s, ending in the 11th inning. UConn had the lead early in the second inning, but the Eagles took the lead in the sixth off a pair of scores.
In the top of the seventh, the Huskies tied the score at two after a triple by senior Reese Guevarra brought home Wivell. Both teams scored again in the ninth, the Huskies on the back of a single from junior Aziah James that brought Wivell home for another run. The teams scored again in the 10th inning, as Zatyk scored on a single from Sanden, but the Huskies were unable to keep up in the 11th.
The Eagles scored their fifth run with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning, on a hit by sophomore Hannah Shemansky that brought in freshman Amaya Gainer for the game-winning run.
It was a disappointing ending to the weekend for the Huskies, who ended up with a 3-2 record, but they were also their first games of the year after last weekend’s weather issues forced those games to be cancelled.
The Huskies will be back in action next weekend in Texas, where they’ll take on the University of Mississippi, Baylor, Lamar and the University of Texas from Friday through Sunday. The first game will be Friday, against the University of Mississippi, at 2 p.m. EST.