The University of Connecticut softball team had offense on their mind heading back into conference play. Competing in their third Big East series away from home in four weekends, the Huskies wanted to add more heat to their hot start in conference play.
UConn loaded the bases on three consecutive walks to start the game, but Karli Ricketts relieved Alyssa Graves and struck out each of the next three batters. Butler drew first blood in the bottom half of the first. After two walks and a fielder’s choice put runners in scoring position, the Bulldogs got on the board as Mackenzie Griman reached on a fielding error that allowed Lauren Fey to score. Following a strikeout from Teagan O’Reilly, Monique Hoosen cleared the bases with a towering three-run home run to center field, putting Butler up 4-0.
Butler piled onto the lead in the bottom of the second. Bri Avery reached on an error, stole second and scored following a sacrifice fly from Ella White. Ellie Boyer did the exact same thing, but scored when Griman doubled down the line to give Butler a 6-0 lead. That knocked Meghan O’Neil out of the game and brought in Elise Sokolsky, who struck out O’Reilly to stop the bleeding.
In the top of the sixth, the Huskies began their rally when Reese Guevarra doubled down the left field line and scored on a Rosie Garcia single to get the Huskies on the board. After two quick outs, Lexi Hastings tripled and brought in Garcia to make it a 6-2 game.
Erika Coreth reached on an error by Ricketts in the top of the seventh and was subbed out for Giuliana Abruscato, but the next three hitters went down in order as the Bulldogs ended UConn’s four-game conference winning streak with a 6-2 victory.
O’Neil pitched 1.2 innings, allowing six runs (two earned) on four hits with two punchouts. Sokolsky struck out 10 over 4.1 innings of relief. Ricketts faced all but three batters for the Bulldogs, allowing two runs on three hits with 10 punchouts.
The Huskies needed to bounce back after losing two straight games, and they got right to work doing so. Marcelino singled on the first pitch of the game, stole her 20th base of the season and scored after Garcia singled to center field.
Butler threatened in the bottom of the first with a runner on second, but Sokolsky sent down the next two batters to escape the early threat. UConn’s next chance came in the top of the third as Guevarra singled and stole second base while Garcia walked, but no one came around to score.
After Hastings grounded out to begin the top of the fourth, the Huskies compiled three consecutive singles and knocked Griman off the mound. Erika Coreth’s single brought in Sami Barnett from second base to make it a 2-0 game. Marcelino walked on a full count to load the bases, but the Huskies did not bring anyone else home.
UConn got two runners in scoring position in the top of the fifth behind stolen bases from Hollis Wivell and Aziah James. Marcelino walked to load the bases for the second straight inning, and Guevarra singled in James and Wivell to make it a 4-0 game.
The Huskies added one more run in the seventh as Olivia Sappington singled in Hastings, but the Bulldogs weren’t going to go down without a fight. Butler loaded the bases after both Kaylee Gross and Maddie Moore singled and Kinley Longest was hit by a pitch, but Fey flew out to give UConn the 5-0 victory.
Sokolsky picked up the win after allowing three hits over four innings with five punchouts. Marybeth Olson pitched the other three frames, allowing three hits while striking out one. Griman took the loss for Butler, allowing two runs on six hits in 3.1 innings.
The rubber match was for all the marbles. Butler threatened in the first inning with two runners on, but Sokolsky sat down the next two hitters to contain the damage.
The offense started to come alive in the top of the fourth, when Guevarra was hit by a pitch and subsequently stole second base. Jana Sanden then picked up her first hit of the weekend, an RBI double to left center field that brought in Guevarra. White responded with a double to left field in the bottom half, but behind a running catch by Hastings, the Bulldogs were kept off the board.
Barnett led off the top of the fifth with a bang, sending the first pitch she saw to deep right field. Her fourth home run of the season doubled the Husky lead and knocked Ricketts off the mound less than two days after her complete game performance.
Guevarra stole her second bag of the game in the top of the sixth, but the best play for UConn occurred in the bottom half. On a 1-1 count, Fey ripped a softball that was destined for the outfield, but Sanden made the diving stop and the threw from her knees for the out.
UConn tacked on an insurance run in the top of the seventh as Barnett beat out the throw to home plate, giving Coreth an RBI single. Sokolsky struck out two batters and Loren Simpson flew out in the bottom half as the Huskies shut out Butler for the second consecutive game 3-0.
Sokolsky dominated on the mound, tossing a two-hit shutout while striking out nine batters and walking one. Ricketts took the loss for the Bulldogs, allowing two runs over four innings despite having six punchouts while Graves pitched the other three innings and allowed a single run.
The Huskies (20-13, 10-2 Big East) wrap up their four-game road trip with a one-off against the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Minutemen. First pitch is Wednesday, April 6, at 4 p.m. on ESPN+.