After a quick weekend road trip to Tampa for the UConn baseball team, the Huskies are headed back down south to Jacksonville for their first true series of the year, slated to take on the North Florida Ospreys.
UConn (2-1) had a successful start to the year, taking home two-of-three in their opening weekend, beating USF and Louisville while falling to Charlotte. They hope to ride the momentum from their last contest, a 9-2 victory over the Cardinals, into this series.
In the very first week of Big East weekly awards, the Huskies were able to sweep the podium, taking home the conference’s Player and Pitcher of the Week. Player of the Week Zach Bushling was stellar all weekend, going 7-for-14 over three games with two RBIs and a home run, with the RBIs coming in the Louisville game. He earned hits in all three contests and looks to continue that streak against the Ospreys.
Not to be overshadowed, Pitcher of the Week Enzo Stefanoni was lights-out this past weekend as well. The starter went 6.2 innings, allowing no runs and striking out eight batters against the Cardinals, earning the win.
While we are a while away from conference play, the Big East Coaches Poll recently came out, and the Huskies landed on top by a unanimous decision, receiving all seven votes. Connecticut won the Big East regular season and tournament titles last year in their first year back in the conference, and looks to do so yet again this season.
The Big East preseason team was also announced, with two Huskies making the list: pitcher Austin Peterson and outfielder Erik Stock, with Stock being a unanimous decision. Stock and Peterson were first-team and second-team all-conference selections last season, so this comes to no surprise.
What may be surprising is the Huskies’ history against North Florida. While they don’t meet often, UConn is on a two-game losing streak, dropping the last two of a three-game series against the Ospreys back in 2018. They currently hold the lead of the all-time series, however, by a score of 4-2.
North Florida (1-4) has suffered a rough start to the season, dropping games to UCF and No. 10 Florida after taking just one-of-three from Presbyterian in their opening series. All of their contests have been decided by three runs or less, so expect a close matchup in all three games of this series. This team is hungry for a win and are hoping the Huskies will let their guard down. The Ospreys were picked to finish sixth out of 12 teams in the ASUN Conference, so they are more than capable of winning a game or two in this series.
The Ospreys are led by infielder Isaiah Byars, who is batting .333 with a .458 slugging percentage in five games. He also adds a triple and three RBIs to his early season resume, and looks to add to his collection this weekend against the Connecticut pitching staff.
While North Florida’s starters haven’t impressed thus far, a couple of their long relievers have been absolutely dominant. Both Peter Holden and Dominick Madonna have yet to let up a run in their combined 11 innings pitched over two appearances, giving up only two hits and three walks between the duo. Their eight total strikeouts isn’t too intimidating, so if the Huskies can make some solid contact, they should be able to do some damage against the early studs.
The first game of the series is set for Friday night at 6:05 p.m, while the Saturday and Sunday games will be at 2:05 and 1:05 p.m, respectively. All three contests will be held at Harmon Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida. The series will be broadcast live on SWOOPLife Live.