STORRS, Conn. – Despite a four-hit day by freshman Briana Marcelino and a furious seventh-inning rally in the second game, the UConn softball team was swept in Saturday’s doubleheader against ECU at Burrill Family Field – wrapping-up the weekend series.
The Huskies (15-28, 2-10 American) dropped both decisions to the Pirates – 5-1 in game one and 7-5 in game two – but not without some resilience. In the second game, UConn nearly erased a five-run deficit in the seventh inning, coming up one hit short.
“We just kept fighting today,” said head coach Jen McIntyre. “It’s a game of inches and clutch hitting. The one disappointing part was when we had the bases loaded with no outs (in game two) and couldn’t score a run. That was huge.”
Marcelino went 4-for-8 on the day, with three doubles and two runs scored – one of five players to record multiple hits in the doubleheader. Senior Emma Stanley, as well as sophomores Chloe Kerns and Kiwi McDaniel, each had two RBI on Saturday.
UConn returns to Burrill on Tuesday afternoon for a non-conference game against Central Connecticut State, beginning at 3 p.m.
— UConn Softball (@UConnSoftball) April 14, 2018
Game 1 – ECU 5, UConn 1
Senior Chelsea Eckert pitched five scoreless innings in her start against ECU, but it was a four-run sixth that led to her exit and a 5-1 victory for the Pirates. Six different players logged hits for the Huskies in the loss.
UConn left eight runners on base throughout the game against starter Erin Poepping, who threw a one-run, six-hit complete game for the Pirates. Junior pitcher Jill Stockley threw 1.2 innings in relief of Eckert for the Huskies.
Runs were at a premium in the first game, as neither team scored until the bottom of the fourth when McDaniel beat-out an infield single that scored pinch runner Kelli Bates to give UConn a 1-0 lead.
In the fifth, the Huskies had runners on first and second with one out as they looked to extend their lead. An apparent single by freshman Sam Barnett turned into a fielder’s choice at third, when Marcelino had to stay close to second to make sure the hit dropped in. UConn stranded two runners, keeping the score at 1-0.
Eckert cruised through the first five frames – allowing only three hits and five total base runners. In the sixth, the Pirates tied the game on an RBI double by Ashley Weingartz, which was later followed by a three-run homer from Karlie Smith – putting UConn in a 4-1 hole.
ECU tacked on one more in the seventh off Stockley to account for the 5-1 final. Poepping racked up five strikeouts for the Pirates, while Eckert had three strikeouts and four walks for the Huskies.
— UConn Softball (@UConnSoftball) April 14, 2018
Game 2 – ECU 7, UConn 5
Trailing 7-2 heading into the final inning, the Huskies rallied to score three times and put the tying run on first base – but they fell one extra-base hit short of an improbable comeback, losing to ECU, 7-5.
Stanley and Kerns accounted for RBI hits in the seventh, both with two outs, as the Huskies had runners on the corners while facing a two-run deficit. A groundball to short by Bates ended the rally, stranding two and giving UConn 10 for the game.
Marcelino was brilliant at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored, while Bates joined her in the multi-hit club by producing two of her own. Stanley, Kerns and McDaniel provided the RBI for UConn.
“(Briana) has done a really nice job both defensively and offensively. She knows what she’s looking for at the plate and she’s a pretty good adjustment hitter,” said McIntyre. “Once she makes the adjustment, she’s a good hitter. She has really fast hands.”
Sophomore Katie Koshes (3-6) got the start for the Huskies, allowing four runs on seven hits in two innings of work. Stockley appeared in a relief role for the second time on Saturday, allowing two earned runs (three total) on six hits in five innings of work.
Runs were scored early and often in game two, as ECU jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first. UConn answered in the bottom half, with an RBI single from McDaniel and sacrifice fly from Stanley to make it 2-2.
The Pirates took a 4-2 lead in the second, after RBI hits from Ashleigh Inae and Meredith Burroughs – the last runs scored by either team until the sixth inning.
Down by two runs in the fifth, UConn had a golden opportunity after loading the bases with no outs against ECU starter Whitney Sanford. The Pirates elected to bring in reliever Ashley Cruise, who retired the next three batters and kept the Huskies off the scoreboard.
In the sixth, Burroughs connected on a three-run homer to give ECU a 7-2 lead – setting the stage for the seventh. Marcelino hit a lead-off double and redshirt freshman Olivia Sappington singled two batters later, putting runners on the corners.
With two outs, Stanley drove home a run on a single to right-center – making it 7-3. After sophomore Devon Casazza drew a walk, Kerns delivered a two-run pinch-hit single to narrow the gap to 7-5 – the closest UConn would get.
Guevarra and Marcelino each reached base three times in the game, accounting for three of UConn’s runs. Seven different players had hits and it was the fifth 10-plus hit game of the season for the Huskies as a team.
BIGGER THAN THE GAME…
UConn celebrated Pediatric Cancer Awareness Day against ECU, wearing gold accessories in their uniforms to support the cause. The Huskies are partnered with Team IMPACT’s Abbie Brouker, an 11-year old who has been in remission for 10 years as of Sunday, April 15 after having Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).