The UConn softball team entered the final stop on its five-game road trip with a five-game winning streak. During that winning streak, the Huskies scored 39 runs and allowed seven while posting two shutouts and winning two games via the mercy rule. Playing the Boston College Eagles, a former Big East foe, the Huskies looked to end their 2022 road slate with a bang.
Writer’s note: I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the James Madison University softball team regarding the loss of Lauren Bernett, a star catcher who helped the Dukes reach the 2021 College World Series. This loss hurts.
It didn’t take long for the Huskies to get on the board. After both Briana Marcelino and Lexi Hastings singled and stole second base, Jana Sanden ripped a two-run double to deep center field to give UConn the early 2-0 advantage. Olivia Sappington, playing in her first game since April 18, hit her sixth home run of the season to center field two pitches later to double the Husky lead 4-0.
Elise Sokolsky allowed a leadoff single to Ellie Mataya in the bottom of the first, but worked around it by getting two Eagles to fly out and striking out Gianna Boccagno swinging.
Marcelino collected her second hit of the game in the top of the second and stole second base again when Reese Guevarra stepped up to the plate, but could not score as Guevarra grounded out to the pitcher to end the frame. Djhane Valido singled in the bottom of the second after two quick outs, but Sokolsky struck out Elisabeth Laviolette swinging to keep the Eagles off the board.
The Huskies gave themselves a chance to add more runs in the top of the third. Hastings reached on an error by the second baseman, but the mistake was nullified after she was caught stealing. Sanden got on base with a full-count walk, but Peyton Schnackenberg struck out the next two Huskies to keep it at a four-run game.
From the bottom of the third to the top of the fifth, there were 12 hitters that went to the plate and 12 hitters who did not record a hit. Out of the 12 total outs, three batters struck out swinging, two popped up to the infield, two flew out and five grounded out.
That dry offensive spell ended in the bottom of the fifth as Kristin Giery hit her first home run of the season to right center field to make it a 4-1 game. The Eagles had a chance to add more runs as Laviolette was hit by a pitch, but Sokolsky sent down the next two Boston College hitter to maintain the three-run advantage. Boston College got another chance in the bottom of the sixth after Schnackenberg struck out the Huskies in the top half, but a two-out Boccagno single turned into nothing as Nicole Giery struck out swinging.
UConn added the insurance run it needed in the top of the seventh. Sami Barnett got the offense going with a single to second base before advancing to second on a fielder’s choice by Erika Coreth. Barnett reached third on a wild pitch and scored after Aziah James grounded out to third base for the 5-1 lead. Marcelino then stepped up to the plate and continued what she started. After drawing the walk, Marcelino stole her third bag of the game as the throw deflected off the second baseman and went into the outfield. With her three stolen bases, Marcelino now has 34 steals in 35 attempts this season, which is already the most in a single season in UConn history and leads the Big East.
Reese Guevarra joined her on the basepaths with a full-count walk, her 20th of the season and 84th of her career. The 84 walks are the most by a softball player in UConn history. Hastings flew out to center field with two runners aboard, but the Huskies had their insurance run.
Marybeth Olson checked in relief of Sokolsky, but the Eagles were not going to make things easy for her. K. Giery started the inning with a walk before Maddy Carpe took second base in her place on a wild pitch. The Eagles put two runners in scoring position after Kamryn Warman hit a pinch-hit single and advanced to second on the throw. With two runners aboard and two outs, Olson got Mataya to fly out as the Huskies beat Boston College 5-1 to finish undefeated on their five-game road trip and extend their winning streak to six games.
Sokolsky picked up her 19th win of the season after going six strong innings, allowing one run and striking out five. With Wednesday’s performance, Sokolsky now has a conference-leading 156 strikeouts on the season. Schnackenberg took the loss for the Eagles after pitching all seven innings while allowing five runs and striking out nine hitters.
On top of her three stolen bases, Marcelino finished 2-3 at the plate with a run scored while Sanden went 1-2 with two RBIs. K. Giery was the only Eagle to get on base twice and had Boston College’s only RBI of the game on the home run.
The Huskies (33-14, 18-3 Big East) return home for a doubleheader against the St. Joseph’s University Hawks on Saturday, April 30, before their three-game series against the Villanova University Wildcats the following weekend. Villanova, who is on a 12-game winning streak, currently sits at 13-4 in conference play and is second behind the Huskies. They have a three-game series with the Seton Hall University Pirates in Pennsylvania beginning Friday, April 29.
Game one of the doubleheader begins at 12 p.m. while game two starts at 2:30 p.m. or 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one. Both games will be on FloSports with live stats provided by StatBroadcast.