The UConn Huskies softball team looked to expand on their six-game winning streak this weekend, but ultimately lost all three games that they played in and fell back to .500 on the season.
In the first game, things were quiet in the first two innings once again as it was a battle of the aces in freshman Payton Kinney and Natalie Halvorson. Unlike previous games however, the first offense to strike blood was the Blue Demons in the bottom of the third.
With two outs, a double by Jessica Cothern sparked a series of events as she would be replaced by Julyana Gomez and then score when Brooke Johnson singled her in. The Blue Demons would triple that lead when Maranda Gutierrez hit a two-run home run to deep left field, her second of the year.
Down 3-0, the Huskies would not respond until the top of the fifth inning, when junior Emily Piergustavo doubled in redshirt junior Hollis Wivell to cut the lead down to 3-1. That would be all the Huskies would muster as senior Reese Guevarra grounded out with two on (freshman Makenzie Mason singled and stole a base) and two out.
DePaul was not done yet either as Gutierrez added two more RBIs to her stat sheet when she doubled in Johnson and Cothern to extend the Blue Demons lead to 5-1. That would be enough as the Blue Demons held on to win the first game in the three-game series.
Kinney only went four innings this time, allowing three runs on six hits and striking out five. Halvorson was dominant in this game as she went five innings, allowing one run on four hits and struck out four.
In the second game, DePaul was looking to get some runs early as they had the bases loaded on two singles and a walk, but before any one of the runners could cross the plate, sophomore Meghan O’Neil got Gabby O’Reily to ground out to short to prevent any damage from happening.
The Husky offense would not be silenced this time and got to business in the third inning. A double by junior Aziah James brought home Guevarra and with both James and freshman Jana Sanden on the bases, senior Briana Marcelino clobbered a three-run home run to center field to give the Huskies a 4-0 lead that they could work with.
DePaul would get half of those runs back in the bottom half of the frame as a fielding error by Marcelino brought home Kate Polucha and a walk to Nicole Sullivan with the bases loaded brought home one more.
The Blue Demons were not done yet as they carried that momentum into the bottom of the fourth inning. Polucha got things started with a triple, then scored when Cothern slammed a double. She would get replaced by Audrey Tumbarello, who proceeded to score the tying run when Johnson hit a double. Gutierrez then hit a double of her own to give DePaul a 5-4 lead.
Kinney then came into the game again and surrendered a single to O’Reily that expanded the lead to 6-4. The Huskies had a chance to make things interesting in the top of the seventh with two on and one out, but Sanden struck out and Marcelino flew out to give the Blue Demons the series and the 6-4 victory.
Gomez picked up the victory for DePaul this time by going 4.2 innings of relief and surrendering one hit with three walks and six strikeouts. O’Neil, meanwhile, went 3.1 innings allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits, four walks and three strikeouts.
Looking to put Friday behind them, the Huskies tried to salvage one game in this series. With the bases loaded on consecutive singles by James, Sanden and Marcelino, junior Sami Barnett was hit by a pitch that brought in the game’s first run. Despite having the bases loaded, the Huskies could not bring anyone else home as Sanden was thrown out at the plate on a fielder’s choice and Mason grounded out.
The 1-0 score would remain that way until the bottom of the second when O’Reily continued to rake with a two-run home run to give the Blue Demons a 2-1 lead, her third of the season.
The Huskies had an opportunity to tie things in the top of the third when they had runners in scoring position, Mason fouled out to end any hopes of equalizing the contest at that point in time.
In the bottom of the third, Angela Scalzitti slammed her first home run of the season to extend the Blue Demon lead to 3-1 and later on that inning, Kinney was relieved for O’Neil once again as she got the next two outs on three batters.
The Huskies would not go away quietly as graduate student Devon Casazza took the first pitch she saw in the top of the fourth deep to left center to slice the lead in half. Down 3-2, the Huskies could not muster anything else and their rally ended when Guevarra was caught stealing.
DePaul would add one more in the bottom of the fourth when Polucha singled in Skylor Hilger to double the lead again to 4-2.
In the top of the fifth, the Huskies had an opportunity to make noise once again, but a fielder’s choice play to home plate and a Mason popout prevented any runs from scoring. The Blue Demons would hold onto that lead and lock the sweep with a 4-2 victory.
There was some good news though. After many months of waiting, senior Marybeth Olson finally made her return to the mound. In her two innings of relief, she gave up two hits and struck out two batters without allowing a run. For the time being, she will be used in relief, but the Big East should be put on notice when she starts again. She did not lose a single game last year.
Kinney, who started the final game in the series, went 2.1 innings and allowed three runs on three hits, two walks and two strikeouts. Her 8-10 record still does not reflect the dominance she has shown all season long.
While the Blue Demons improve to 14-7 (6-0 in Big East play), the Huskies (13-13, 5-4 in Big East play) will look to bounce back strong on the road against the Providence Friars (2-7, 1-4 in Big East play) next weekend in a three-game set on Saturday, April 10 (doubleheader) and Sunday, April 11.