Coming off of a 2-3 first weekend of the season, UConn will look to pick up some wins in Charlotte, N.C, with two games on Friday and one each on Saturday and Sunday. First up is the home team, UNC Charlotte, in a 2 p.m. showdown, followed by a 5 p.m. game against Campbell to round out Friday. The weekend features two morning games, at 11 a.m. and 10 a.m. respectively, both against James Madison.
On the UConn offense, one player to watch is shortstop Briana Marcelino. She got on base in all five of the Huskies’ games last weekend, with multi-hit games against Mizzou and Wisconsin. On top of simply getting on, Marcelino recorded at least one stolen base in each game, swiping two in both the Mizzou and the Wisconsin games, for a total of seven on the weekend without being caught.
Pitching-wise, the Huskies used four out of five of their staff last weekend, with Elise Sokolsky making four appearances, Meghan O’Neil making three, Marybeth Olson making two and Delaney Nagy appearing once. Payton Kinney, who led the team last season in wins and ERA with 11 and 2.99 respectively, did not pitch, so her 2022 debut may come this weekend.
UConn’s first opponent, Charlotte, has been off to a strong start in 2022. Their 5-1 record features a 21-0 trouncing of Bucknell last Friday, but the one loss they’ve suffered so far was a 1-16 stomp from Notre Dame. Offensively, Charlotte has been led by center fielder Bailey Vannoy, who currently owns a .542 batting average in 24 at-bats and a six-game hit streak, along with two homers. Overall, the team is batting a very respectable .323, so UConn has its work cut out when it comes to silencing the bats. On the mound, Charlotte has four pitchers, two of which, Lindsey Walljasper and Amelia Wiercioch, have ERAs under two, while Madelyn Wright and Karyana Mitchell have had a harder time keeping runs from scoring.
Up next is Campbell, a team that has only played four games so far due to a Wednesday postponement with UNC Greensboro. Campbell has also only lost one game and won one major blowout, falling to North Florida 2-4 and shutting out Jacksonville 18-0. In the batter’s box, Campbell should be less of a threat than Charlotte, but still certainly formidable. Currently with a team batting average of .280, the more impressive stat for Campbell is that opponents have been held to a .140 average. With a team ERA of 1.08, Campbell’s two hurlers, Isabella Smith and Georgeanna Barefoot, have been excellent so far. Barefoot is currently 2-0, and has not allowed an earned run yet, while Smith is 1-1 with 13 strikeouts in two outings.
Lastly, the Huskies will play two games against No. 25 James Madison, a team that finished No. 4 in NCAA Softball last season and only lost four total games in the process. UConn has the privilege of being JMU’s first opponents of 2022, as the team has not had a game on the schedule yet. Nevertheless, Saturday and Sunday will be a challenge for the Huskies.
It’s still very early in the season, as teams start to get the wheels turning again, but the action has begun. Tune in to the Charlotte Invitational, starting 2 p.m. Friday, available on ESPN+.