Softball: Huskies go 1-4 in final weekend of pre-season 

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UConn Huskies softball takes a commanding lead and defeats URI at Burrill Family Field. The final score was 8-2 after eight innings. Photo by Chris John / The Daily Campus.

Coming off a perfect 5-0 weekend and looking to go into next week’s beginning of Big East, the Huskies came into the five-game Carolina Classic with high hopes. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as successfully as they could have gone, as UConn pulled out a 7-1 win against Penn State on Saturday while falling to the University of Oregon twice and once each to UNC and UNC Greensboro. 

First up in the weekend was a Friday night game against UNC Greensboro. The Huskies brought the bats early with a leadoff homer from SS Briana Marcelino followed by another solo shot two batters later from Rosie Garcia to put UConn up 2-0 immediately. Unfortunately for the Huskies, that would be the last scoring they’d do all game. While starter Meghan O’Neil was able to hold the lead through four innings, UNCG broke the game open in the fifth, scoring five runs to add to one they got in the fourth. The game would stay at 6-2 as the Spartans took the win. Despite the lack of runs after the first, the Huskies did have some highlights, such as Marcelino going 4-4 and 1B Sami Barnett and LF Lexi Hastings each having two-hit games. 

UConn’s Saturday morning game was their first of two this weekend against Oregon. The Ducks got out to a strong start with three runs in the first and four in the second, knocking UConn starter Marybeth Olson out after 1.2 innings. Down 7-0, UConn got one back in the fourth when Barnett doubled and then scored on a wild pitch, but that was it for the Husky offense. Oregon would score an eighth run in the bottom of the fourth, also off of a wild pitch, then tacked on the ninth run in the fifth, at which point the mercy rule was called into play to end the game at 9-1 in favor of the Ducks. 

The Huskies’ sole win of the weekend began as a pitcher’s duel, with UConn’s Elise Sokolsky and Penn State’s Kylee Lingenfelter each taking shutouts into the fifth. Once there, however, things fell apart for the Nittany Lions. A Marcelino RBI single followed immediately by a three-run double for RF Reese Guevarra brought the score to 4-0, and then a 2B Jana Sanden two-run homer capped off the scoring in the inning at six runs. Penn State scored one unearned run in the top of sixth, but that was the extent of their offense. A sac fly from UConn C Erika Coreth brought the game to its final score: 7-1.  Sokolsky ended with a five-hit complete game with zero earned runs allowed, while DH Emily Piergustavo had a two-hit day. 

Sokolsky was back on the mound for the Huskies’ next game, a rematch against Oregon. Through two innings the score was 1-1, with Oregon striking in the first and then UConn responding in the second via a Barnett solo homer. Unlike the first three games of the weekend, where runs came in bursts, the scoring was much more spread out in this game. Oregon scored two runs in the third and then one in the fourth, fifth and six to bring their run total to six through six innings, while UConn got two runs from Garcia off a double in the third and a home run in sixth. With one inning left to play, the score was 6-3 in favor of the Ducks. Sokolsky, after pitching 13 innings in two days, was pulled for the final frame and was replaced by Delaney Nagy. After Nagy got two outs, the would-be third-out struck out, but reached first on an error by the catcher. This opened the door for Oregon to score three unearned runs, bringing the final score to 9-3. 

The last game of the weekend for UConn would prove to be the only contest with a run margin smaller than four, as the Huskies took on UNC. The Tar Heels started the game off with a bang, tagging UConn starter O’Neil for six runs in the first, knocking her out of the game before she could record an inning of work. Sokolsky came in for the next 4.1, allowing two runs during that time, but calming the UNC offense down and keeping them at eight runs through six innings. On the offensive side for UConn, the bats displayed some resiliency as they fought back to make it close. Shut out through four innings, the Huskies put up a six-spot of their own to bring the score to 6-7 at the time, with a CF Aziah James RBI single, a Marcelino 2-RBI double, a Garcia RBI single and then a two-run homer from Sanden. UNC would score their final run off of Sokolsky in the bottom of the fifth, giving UConn two chances to come back from the 6-8 deficit. Unfortunately, the offense they got was too little too late, as Rosie Garcia’s third homer of the week was not enough, and the Huskies lost 7-8. 

Despite the negative record from this weekend, UConn still has plenty to be excited about as the first Big East series, three games against St. John’s, comes up next week. Marcelino got a hit in all five games, Garcia hit three homers over the weekend and Sokolsky proved incredibly durable as she pitched 17.1 innings. 

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