It was an all-around effort last weekend as the University of Connecticut softball team won all five games in the Cougar Classic. Now sitting at 8-6, the Huskies enter the Research Triangle for their final invitational of the season.
Brianna Marcelino has taken control of the offense, solidifying her leadoff spot with a team-leading 13 stolen bases. At the plate, she’s batting .364 and is leading the team in hits (16), runs scored (10) and total bases (19). Lexi Hastings is emerging as a secondary speedster with one triple and seven stolen bases. She may be batting .286, but she’ll steal a base before the pitcher blinks.
Reese Guevarra’s .360 batting average is accompanied by a team leading .560 slugging percentage and five RBIs. Erika Coreth has been a nice transfer acquisition from Monmouth, batting .292 with a home run, a .500 slugging percentage and 72 putouts.
Big East Weekly Honor Roll member Sami Barnett and Olivia Sappington bring the power. Barnett went 5-13 last weekend to improve her average to .275 while two of Sappington’s three hits have left the yard. They may have two home runs apiece but are looking to do more damage. Aziah James, Jana Sanden and Rosie Garcia have helped out defensively with 54 combined putouts and 42 combined defensive assists. They each have nine hits, giving the Huskies a balanced middle/bottom of the lineup.
Big East Weekly Honor Roll member Meghan O’Neil is off to a great start after pitching 14.2 innings, which included a complete game against Applachian State on Saturday. She is now 3-2 in nine appearances (seven starts) with a 3.05 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 36.2 innings. Look for her to start the first game of the weekend. Marybeth Olson is 2-2 in four starts with a 3.77 ERA, striking out 13 in 13 innings. Elise Sokolsky started the Huskies’ other three games, posting a 3-2 record with a 3.92 ERA in 25 innings and 22 punchouts.
The Huskies first play the University of North Carolina-Greensboro Spartans (9-4), who squared off against Oregon yesterday in Greensboro. Maycin Brown has been their offensive star, batting .415 with a 1.193 OPS and a .510 on base percentage. She also has two home runs and seven RBIs but is not the team’s source of power. That belongs to Blayke Batten, who has five home runs, 12 RBIs, a 1.000 slugging percentage and a .382 batting average. The Spartans also have Jordan Gontram and Grace Loftin each batting over .300.
On the mound, the Spartans have two solid arms in Reese Byrd and Morgan Scott. Byrd has started five games, going 3-1 with a 1.73 ERA and two complete games. Scott is 5-2 with a 3.33 ERA, six complete games and 47 strikeouts.
The Huskies have already upset one ranked team in the then No. 10 Missouri Tigers and will look to repeat that feat against the No. 12 University of Oregon Ducks (11-3). Oregon, who played UNC-Greensboro yesterday, enters Saturday’s contest after winning their last three games in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
The Ducks have a balanced hitting corps, led by Allee Bunker (.380 BA, two home runs, 12 RBIs), Hanna Delgado (.348 BA, two home runs, 6 RBIs) and Hannah Galey (.333 BA, one home run, 1.052 OPS) where Delgado and Bunker have nine combined stolen bases. Two X-factors for the Ducks are Paige Sunicki (six stolen bases) and Ariel Carlson (three home runs) who are dangerous on the basepaths and at the plate.
On the mound, Stevie Hansen is flashing her potential. In seven games (four starts), Hansen is 2-0 with a 1.56 ERA, .98 WHIP and 26 strikeouts. Makenna Kliethermes is just as intimidating, with a 2.43 ERA and 45 punchouts. Expect the Huskies to see either of those pitchers or Jordan Dail (5-1, 3.29 ERA, 32 strikeouts) in their two games.
The Huskies will play the Penn State University Nittany Lions (8-5) for the second time this season, the first ending in a 2-1 Husky victory in Florida as Hastings delivered the walk off double. Claire Swedberg contributed went 2-4 at the plate and leads the team with four steals overall. Cassie Lindmark and Michelle Leone have delivered most of the Nittany Lions’ offense as both are hitting over .400 with a combined 18 RBIs and an on base percentage of over .500.
Bailey Parshall is the team’s ace, going 4-2 with a 1.17 ERA, 59 punchouts and six complete games. Kylee Lingenfelter has started the rest of the games, posting a 2.55 ERA, striking out 32 and tossing three complete games. Lydia Spalding fills in when she needs to, having a 1.40 ERA and one strikeout in five innings of work.
Following another game with Oregon, the Huskies wrap up the weekend against the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. UNC (10-7) split their last two games, getting shut out by No. 19 Michigan and topping Villanova the next day. Skyler Brooks is producing at the plate, batting .405 with a triple and five stolen bases on eight attempts. Bri Stubbs is another dynamic piece, as she is batting .356 with a .958 OPS and four stolen bases. Destiny Middleton brings the speed with two triples and four stolen bags while Kianna Jones hits for power with three home runs.
The Tar Heels have two options in their rotation. Carlie Myrtle has made two starts and four appearances with a .91 ERA, two complete games and 21 strikeouts. Hannah George commands the rotation with a 6-0 record, a 1.39 ERA, four complete games and 38 strikeouts. Their other main starter is Lilli Backes, who is 2-5 with two complete games and 37 punchouts.
First pitch this weekend is at 3:30 p.m. against UNC-Greensboro. UConn will then play two games on both Saturday, March 5, and Sunday, March 6, each starting at 10 a.m. Live stats will be available on StatBroadcast.