In the month of April, UConn softball has outscored its opponents 78-30 en route to a 10-2 record. The Huskies have six games left to play before May, beginning with a trip to North Andover, Massachusetts, for a Wednesday showdown against Merrimack.
UConn and Merrimack have never faced each other on the softball field before, so there is no history between the two teams, but this year, they have followed very different trajectories. While the Huskies currently hold a 15-3 in-conference record, good for No. 1 in the Big East, the Warriors sit at No. 7 in the Northeast Conference, with a record of 4-11.
From the Providence series, one standout UConn player to watch is Rosie Garcia. In Monday’s 8-0 victory over the Friars, Garcia had two hits, two RBI (runs batted in), a walk and scored a run. Briana Marcelino also had a solid weekend, hitting two extra-base hits, a triple on Friday and a double on Monday, while stealing three bases to bring her perfect stolen base record to 29-29. On the subject of steals, the Huskies crossed the 100 mark for teamwide stolen bases this weekend, with Marcelino (29), Lexi Hastings (26) and Reese Guevarra (25) having all either broken or tied Jen Ward’s all-time UConn softball single-season record from 2012.
In the circle, Elise Sokolsky gave up only one run in 15 innings of work against the Friars, striking out 20. Marybeth Olson delivered two perfect innings, while Meghan O’Neil kept Providence to one run in four frames. With these three pitching the majority of the innings, the Husky pitching staff is inching closer and closer to a sub-three team ERA.
For Merrimack, Ellen Hubbard has been the start of the offense this season. She leads the team in average, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI and OPS (on-base plus slugging). After Hubbard, who is currently batting .292, Sarah Reisler and Jenna Wike, both batting .282, are the only other hitters with an average over .270. As a whole, the team is batting .217, while its opponents are averaging .286.
Pitching-wise, the Warriors have three main hurlers, Katelyn Thompson, Bry Michitson and Madie Fornwalt, each of which has put in about 70 innings of work on the season. The three of them are averaging a 4.79 ERA this year.
While UConn is certainly favored to win this, Merrimack has some factors that could threaten the Huskies. For starters, while the Warriors have yet to win an away game, they’ve won six at home. On top of this, two of their home wins came against Mount St. Mary’s — a team that is currently 12-3 in the NEC and only 1.5 games out of first place. On a four-game skid, the Warriors will be looking to play David to UConn’s Goliath before trying to bounce back in conference play.
First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20 at Martone-Mejail Field in North Andover, Massachusetts. After the Merrimack game, UConn will travel to South Orange, New Jersey for three games of the weekend against Seton Hall.