On Sunday, the UConn softball team hosted Southern Connecticut State and William Patterson for a daytime doubleheader to wrap up the 2023 fall schedule.
In game one against Southern Connecticut, the Huskies dug themselves into an early four-run hole behind sloppy baserunning and costly errors in the field. Sophomore infielder Haley Coupal woke up the offense with a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth to draw the Huskies within two, but the comeback bid fell just short as UConn dropped game one 6-5.
In game two against William Patterson, UConn got off to a hot start with sophomore Kaitlyn Kibling circling the bases on an inside-the-park home run to jumpstart a three-run first inning for the Huskies. Connecticut would score three more times in the third inning before erupting for 10 runs in the fourth on route to a blowout 16-1 victory in the final game. Kibling led the way with two extra-base hits while Grace Jenkins and Savannah Ring slugged their way to multi-hit games as well.
In the victory, starting pitcher Hallie Siems kept William Patterson off the board through three innings while punching out seven and surrendering just one base hit. The incoming transfer from Memphis was as good as advertised after her dominant tenure with the Tigers, having led the team in earned run average (3.19) and strikeouts (79) last season.
With the fall portion of the schedule officially under their belt, Connecticut will now turn their attention to the upcoming regular season. The program is coming off a 34-15 season, a year in which they won the Big East regular season title for the second consecutive season for the first time since 1996-1997. However, they could not finish the job as they were eliminated, missing out on the NCAA Tournament for the 22nd straight season. Expectations are higher than ever going into the 2024 season; Connecticut has its sights set on winning the Big East Championship and more as they return significant pieces from last year’s roster plus major additions from the transfer portal.
Expect the tandem of Payton Kinney and Lexi Hastings to lead the way in 2024. Both players are coming off of spectacular 2023 seasons after they have both earned all-Big East first-team honors. In addition, Connecticut welcomes back a dominant freshman class and significant pitching adds from the transfer portal such as Siems and Sydnee Koosh.
With a roster stacked with elite talent at the plate and on the mound, the Huskies have their sights on winning the Big East and getting back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001.