Walk-offs on Wednesday, Big East on the weekend. The UConn softball team resumed Big East play with their bats coming alive in all three games against the DePaul Blue Demons.
In the first game, DePaul drew first blood as Kate Polucha doubled in Maranda Gutierrez, who turned a single into a double on a throwing error, in the top of the third. Briana Marcelino capitalized off a leadoff double with a single in the bottom half to make it a 1-1 game.
After the first two hitters got out in the bottom of the fourth, Olivia Sappington stepped up to the plate and hit her second home run in as many games. That gave UConn the 2-1 lead, but they were not done yet. Erika Coreth and Aziah James both singled before Marcelino brought them via a dropped fly ball.
That 4-1 Husky lead did not last long. In the following half-inning, Brooke Johnson blasted a two-run shot to left-center field to cut the deficit to one. After both Polucha and Nicole Sullivan walked and Tori Meyer struck out swinging, Anna Wohlers ripped a two-run triple for the 5-4 Blue Demon lead.
UConn responded in the bottom half as Sappington brought in Rosie Garcia on a sacrifice fly and James produced an infield single for the 6-5 lead. After a quiet sixth inning, the Huskies found themselves one out away from the win in the top of the seventh. However, Wohlers sent the first pitch she saw over the fence to tie the contest at six. UConn went down in the order in the bottom half to force extra innings.
After the first five batters went down to begin the eighth inning, Marcelino sent a payoff pitch to right center field for the walk-off home run, her fourth of the season, which gave UConn the 7-6 victory.
Elise Sokolsky picked up the win for the Huskies, striking out four over 3.2 innings. Meghan O’Neil struck out six over 4.1 innings, allowing four runs (two earned). Erin Hocker surrendered the winning run on her only hit and struck out three.
The next day, the Huskies revealed a banner for their 1993 team that went to the College World Series in Oklahoma in a pregame ceremony. That team went 45-14, won the Big East with a 17-1 conference record and won the Hempstead, New York regional. Former head coach Karen Mullins threw out the first pitch.
DePaul started the game off with a bang. Gutierrez scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch before Sullivan ripped a two-run double to center field to give the Blue Demons the 3-0 lead. Sokolsky got the next two hitters out, but the damage had been done early.
Jana Sanden responded in the bottom half of the first. With a full count and Guevarra on second base, Sanden put a softball in the scoreboard netting to cut the deficit to one. It was her fifth home run of the year. UConn tied the game in the bottom of the second inning as Lexi Hastings made her way around the bases before scoring on a sacrifice fly from Marcelino.
It remained a 3-3 deadlock until Marcelino’s bat caught more fire. With James on base in the bottom of the fourth, Marcelino went yard for the second time in as many games for the 5-3 Husky lead.
Consecutive two-out singles from Johnson and Polucha gave the Blue Demons a great chance to tie in the top of the fifth, but both runners were stranded. UConn responded by scoring two runs, one on an RBI-double from Sanden and the other as Hastings reached on an error.
The next six hitters from DePaul went down in order as the Huskies secured the 7-3 victory. Sokolsky went the distance for the Huskies, allowing three runs on five hits with eight strikeouts. Sarah Lehman went five innings for the Blue Demons, allowing seven runs (six earned) on nine hits with five punchouts.
Everything you need to know about the final game occurred in the bottom of the fifth inning. Entering that frame, DePaul had a 2-1 lead after a Sullivan home run in the second, an RBI single from Johnson in the third and an RBI single from Guevarra the following half-inning.
It started like any normal half-inning as Sappington grounded out to second base. Coreth then followed up with a double to the wall. After James struck out swinging, Marcelino was ruled safe on an infield single, which stood after a DePaul challenge and video review, leading to the ejection of a DePaul coach.
Guevarra tied the contest with an electric single and Garcia capitalized off a defensive error, to give UConn the lead. The Huskies loaded the bases as Sanden and Barnett walked before Hastings cleared them all with a three-run double for the 7-2 advantage.
That knocked Hocker out of the game and brought in Julyana Gomez, who put Sappington on base before surrendering an RBI single to Coreth. James followed suit and loaded the bases for the second time in the frame. Marcelino walked to bring in a run before Guevarra closed out the contest with a full-count base on balls.
With the nine-run fifth inning, the Huskies swept the Blue Demons 10-2 in a critical series for both teams. The offense was on full display the entire weekend, scoring 24 runs with four home runs.
Marybeth Olson pitched the fifth inning and secured the win, striking out two. O’Neil pitched the other four and struck out seven while allowing two runs. Hocker took the loss, allowing eight runs (two earned) on six hits with five strikeouts over 4.2 innings.
The Huskies (18-11, 8-1 Big East) wrap up their five-game homestand with a one-off against the Boston University Terriers on Wednesday, March 30, at 3 p.m. on ESPN+. Live stats will be provided by StatBroadcast.