In its last four games, the University of Connecticut softball team scored 12 runs and went 2-2. The Huskies found their footing as they shut out Butler in the final two games of the series, but that was just the beginning as they traveled to Amherst, Massachusetts to play the University of Massachusetts Minutemen.
The first inning was the quietest inning of the game. With one out, Reese Guevarra singled and stole second base, giving the Huskies an early opportunity to score. However, she advanced no further as Julianne Bolton got the next two hitters out, striking Jana Sanden out looking to end the frame. Elise Sokolsky, the reigning Big East Pitcher of the Week, struck out the side in the bottom half.
The rain may have left the area, but the Huskies showered runs in the top of the second. Lexi Hastings got the hit party started with a leadoff single before Sami Barnett joined her on the basepaths via a fielder’s choice. Two batters later, Erika Coreth singled to second base and brought home Hastings to put the Huskies on the board. Giuliana Abruscato pinch-ran for her and made it to second when Aziah James loaded the bases with a bunted single.
On a 2-0 count, Briana Marcelino brought home two more runs when she ripped a double to right center field. That made it a 3-0 ballgame, but the Huskies were not done scoring. Guevarra walked to load the bases again before Rosie Garcia singled in James for the 4-0 advantage.
Hastings continued to rake, hitting a payoff pitch with two outs to the left field wall. Garcia came around to score standing up as Hastings cleared the bases, giving the Huskies a 7-0 advantage. UConn only needed six hits and 11 batters while leaving a single runner on base.
UConn did damage to the Minutemen, who were sent down in order in the bottom of the second, but they were looking for more. Following an Olivia Sappington flyout, Coreth walked, and James reached on an error before both advanced one base on a wild pitch. Marcelino brought in Coreth on a sacrifice fly and Guevarra singled in James as the Huskies took a 9-0 advantage. During the frame, Guevarra stole her second bag of the afternoon.
After Sokolsky sent down the Minutemen in order in the bottom of the third, UConn added more insurance runs in the top of the fourth. Hastings got on base for the third time with a walk and advanced to third when Barnett singled to UMass pitcher Jenna Bradley, who had relieved Bolton. Emily Piergustavo pinch hit for Sappington, who had gone 0-2 on the day, and promptly walked after Barnett stole second base, her sixth stolen bag of the season.
With the bases loaded, Coreth singled up the middle and brought in both Hastings and Barnett to make it an 11-0 game. This was the first time the Huskies had scored 10+ runs since beating DePaul on the mercy rule on March 27. Rileigh De Weese, who pinch hit for James, grounded into a double play following a passed ball to temporarily contain UConn’s scorching offense.
Having pitched 18.1 innings over the last four games, Sokolsky was relieved for Delaney Nagy, who was making her first appearance since March 19. Nagy got into some early trouble as Bella Pantoja walked and Payge Suggs singled to put two runners on with nobody out. That brought Kristina Day to the plate, who had the opportunity to get the Minutemen on the board.
With a 2-0 count, Day sent a softball toward center field, but Marcelino was right there, handing the ball off to Sanden before she threw it straight to Barnett for the 6-4-3 double play. UMass did have a runner advance to third during the play, but Nagy struck Chloe Whittier out to keep the shutout intact.
In the top of the fifth, Marcelino collected her second hit of the day with a leadoff single and stole her team-leading 22nd base of the season while Hollis Wivell was at the plate. Wivell, who pinch hit for Guevarra, walked to join her on the basepaths while Sanden walked two batters later to load the bases.
That brought up Hastings, who was already 2-2 and had gotten on base three times. On a 2-1 count, Hastings hit a softball to deep left field. Instead of landing at the wall, this softball cleared the bleachers as Hastings hit her first collegiate home run.
That home run knocked Bradley out of the game and brought in Kali Puppolo, who got the next two Huskies out. Meghan O’Neil relieved Nagy in the bottom of the fifth, striking out three batters as the Huskies collected their third straight shutout 15-0 and finished 3-1 on their four-game road trip.
Sokolsky, fresh off a complete game shutout on Sunday, pitched three innings and struck out six hitters for her 11th win of the year. She is now up to 92 strikeouts in 90 innings pitched with 22 walks allowed and a 1.89 ERA. Nagy pitched the fourth inning in relief, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out one batter.
Bolton took the loss for the Minutemen, allowing nine runs (eight earned) on seven hits with two walks and a punchout. In 1.1 innings of work, Bradley surrendered six runs on four hits with four walks.
Offensively, Hastings went 3-3, got on base four times and collected seven RBIs for the Huskies. Suggs had the Minutemen’s only hit of the game.
The Huskies (21-13, 10-2 Big East) kick off a seven-game homestand with a three-game series against the Creighton Blue Jays. First pitch is under the lights Friday, April 8, at 6 p.m. while first pitch for Saturday and Sunday is 2 p.m. and 11 a.m., respectively. All three games are available on FloSports with live stats provided by StatBroadcast.