Over the weekend, the University of Connecticut women’s softball team played their sixth through 10th games of the season at the Lone Star State Invitational in Waco, Texas. They faced off against the University of Mississippi, Baylor University, Lamar University and the University of Texas in a total of games over three days, from Friday through Sunday.
The team faced off against all of their opponents once except for Baylor, who they faced twice over the weekend. The weekend got off to a rough start; on Friday, the Huskies dropped a 0-7 game to the University of Mississippi and a 0-5 game to Baylor University.
The Huskies held on against Ole Miss until the bottom of the fourth in their first game of the invitational, when they gave up three runs to the Rebels. That started the downslide that continued in the bottom of the fifth, when the Huskies gave up another four runs, giving the Rebels a total of seven.
The struggle continued in the second game of Friday, this one against the Baylor Bears. The UConn offense continued to struggle massively, failing to score in their second game in a row and dropping another five runs. The pitching duo of Meghan O’Neil and Payton Kinney struggled; Kinney dropped seven runs in the first game and lasted just four innings, while O’Neil played the last inning of that game and all seven of the second, giving up four runs and getting only two strikeouts.
The team rebounded in their Saturday games, where they again played Baylor but also played Lamar University. Their game against Lamar was far more successful; the Huskies scored seven runs and gave up none on the back of a much more successful pitching performance by O’Neil, who pitched five innings, and Kinney, who pitched two innings
The true star of the Lamar game, though, was senior Briana Marcelino, who scored three runs on a pair of home runs alongside three RBIs. Lauren Bensen also showed up, scoring two RBIs and a run. The offense was also successfully baserunning; they stole four bases in the game, including two by Hollis Wivell.
The fourth game was also more successful. The Huskies scored seven runs once again, as Marcelino continued her impressive performance going 2-2 with three runs and two RBIs. Kinney pitched another six innings, giving up three runs and striking out three, while O’Neil closed out the day with two outs.
Despite the impressive Saturday performance, the Huskies performance on Sunday was far from exceptional. The game lasted just five innings as O’Neil gave up 11 runs in three innings, and Kinney added another five, to cement the four-and-a-half inning loss for the Huskies.
Coming off of a weekend where the Huskies had gone 3-2, this 2-3 weekend is disappointing. That disappointment is only exacerbated by the fact that the Huskies were so thoroughly routed in their losses; in the three losses the Huskies scored only two runs and gave up a whopping 28.
Perhaps the most concerning sign for the Huskies was the pitching. Both O’Neil and Kinney struggled through most of the games, which is understandable to some extent when they combined for a full five games over three days, but giving up 16 runs in five innings is a concerning performance by every standard.
Next weekend, the Huskies will be playing in the UNC Tournament, where they will be facing off against the University of South Carolina and the University of North Carolina in four games over the weekend. The tournament will begin on Friday, March 5 at 1:30 p.m. EST in a game between the UConn Huskies and the University of South Carolina Gamecocks.