STORRS, Conn. – Freshman Samantha Barnett recorded a pinch-hit RBI double in the fifth inning, but the UConn softball team dropped a pitcher’s duel to ECU on Friday – 2-1 – at Burrill Family Field in American Athletic Conference play.
The Huskies (15-26, 2-8 American) received a strong outing from sophomore Katie Koshes (3-5), who struck-out six and allowed just one earned run on two hits in the complete-game effort. Senior Ryne Nakama and freshman Reese Guevarra added hits for UConn.
ECU pitcher Whitney Sanford left five UConn runners on base in the game – including the bases loaded in the fifth inning – to outduel Koshes in the opening contest of a three-game set this weekend. Sanford allowed one run on three hits.
“I thought we made pretty good contact with the ball throughout the game,” said head coach Jen McIntyre. “We just needed a timely hit. That’s what the game is all about – clutch hitting and timely hitting. We were one hit away.”
Barnett’s RBI double came in a big fifth inning for UConn, as seven batters got to the plate. Nakama scored from first base on Barnett’s hit, which narrowed the deficit to 2-1. It was the seventh RBI of the season for the freshman infielder.
Later in the inning, walks by freshmen Briana Marcelino and Guevarra loaded the bases for sophomore Kiwi McDaniel with two outs. McDaniel hit a fly ball in foul territory, slicing over toward the bleachers that was caught by ECU outfielder Olivia Narron to end the threat.
Sam Barnett comes up to pinch hit and mashes it to the gap to bring home Nakama and cut the deficit to 1! pic.twitter.com/JfnAZl539h
— UConn Softball (@UConnSoftball) April 13, 2018
Trailing 1-0 in the fourth, Koshes allowed a solo home run to ECU’s Meredith Burroughs to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead. It was only a hiccup for the second-year lefty, who recorded four perfect frames on the day.
ECU (17-24, 3-7 American) scored its first run after the opening batter of the game hit a long fly to left field that was dropped by junior Kelli Bates, allowing Tyler King to advance to third on the play. The next batter, Ashleigh Inae, drove her in with a sacrifice fly.
“I was trying to work my corners and throw pitchers that could keep them off-balance,” said Koshes. “For tomorrow against this team, we need to keep working hard and staying within ourselves, focusing on just hitting, pitching and fielding.”
The Huskies made solid contact on several pitches by Sanford on Friday, including a screaming liner to center by Guevarra in the fourth and a rope to third base by senior Emma Stanley in the seventh – but the hits kept finding ECU gloves.
UConn returns to action on Saturday when it hosts ECU in doubleheader action, beginning at 12 p.m. at Burrill. It will be both Bark in the Park – bring your dogs! – and Pediatric Cancer Awareness Day.