The UConn Huskies softball team (31-11, 18-3) is red-hot with a series sweep over the Creighton University Bluejays (18-26, 4-13) on the road in Omaha, Nebraska.
In the team’s second-to-last Big East regular season series, the Huskies turned up the offense, scoring 25 runs in three games, including 10 in the last two.
Right fielder Lexi Hastings was the game changer on Friday afternoon with two home runs, her fifth multi-RBI game of the season.
Pitcher Hope Jenkins brought her team-leading win total to 12, striking out three in six scoreless innings.
Infielders Rosie Garcia and Jana Sanden showed just how strong UConn’s defense is, diving to make plays in the second and third innings respectively.
Taylor Zatyk brought Garcia on a single to left field. Hope Jenkins gave the Huskies the fifth run on a bases-loaded walk to complete a three-run seventh inning.
Reliever Meghan O’Neil struck out two to get the save, securing a 5-1 series-opening victory for Connecticut.
Starting pitcher Payton Kinney began Saturday’s game by striking out three Bluejays in three innings.
Similar to Friday, Hastings scored the first run for the Huskies, stealing second and third on a leadoff walk and crossing home on a wild pitch in the first inning. Another Creighton mistake allowed Grace Jenkins to score from second base, getting out to an early 2-0 lead.
The Huskies saw their lead disappear temporarily in the third inning, as Bluejays outfielder Cayla Nielsen’s solo shot and catcher Saren Croker’s bases-clearing double gave Creighton a 4-2 lead.
In the fourth inning, UConn catcher Lauren Benson hit her first career home run to left center field to cut the deficit to one run. Hastings continued her strong weekend, scoring from third on a Grace Jenkins game-tying single.
Benson delivered again on a sacrifice fly, as Garcia tagged up and scored from third to give the Huskies the lead for good. Centerfielder Aziah James brought infielder Savannah Ring in to score later in the inning, the score now being 6-4.
UConn’s offense went to another level in the seventh inning, scoring four runs on five hits. With the bases loaded and one out, the Huskies got three consecutive base hits. James hit a bloop single into left field to drive Ring home once again, and Grace Jenkins hit a long single off the wall in center field, driving Hastings and Giuliana Abruscato. Sanden finished off the dominant inning with a double to right-center field, driving James home.
O’Neil came in for the final two innings, not allowing a hit and earning a save as the Huskies clinched the series 10-5. Pitcher Delaney Nagy was credited with the win, striking two batters out in 2.1 innings.
Following Saturday’s win, it was announced that Connecticut became the 12th team in the country to have 100 stolen bases this season.
Just like the first two games, the scoring began in the first inning for the Huskies, as Sanden drove James and Hastings on a single to left field.
After stranding two runners in the bottom of the first inning, Hope Jenkins went yard for the first time in her career, bringing UConn’s lead to 3-0.
In the bottom of the second inning, the Huskies saw the lead vanish again on a three-run homer by Nielsen.
Sanden drove her third run of the game on a double on the left field line, with Hastings scoring once again, giving Connecticut the lead once again at 4-3.
She didn’t just help the team on offense, she also made multiple impressive plays on defense, including a diving catch to prevent a bloop single.
On her third hit of the day, Hastings drove in Zatyk on a single in the fourth inning. Grace Jenkins would load the bases up on a single, which resulted in Ring scoring as Garcia was hit by a pitch.
Hastings began the hit party in the fifth inning with her second RBI of the day, singling to center field to drive in Hope Jenkins. James brought Zatyk in to score on a single to left field. Hastings would find her way home on a sacrifice fly by Grace Jenkins, and the four-run fifth inning was capped off by freshman Haley Coupal reaching first on a hit-by-pitch, which allowed Ring to cross home plate again with the bases loaded.
Creighton cut the lead to four on a three-run shot by Nielsen in the bottom of the sixth inning but did not get any closer.
O’Neil got the save again to give the Huskies their fourth-straight series sweep, 10-4. Hastings finished the game with four hits, leaving no doubt she should be the Big East Player of the Week.
The Huskies will close out their Big East regular season schedule with a trip to the Windy City to take on DePaul University next weekend.