CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – If Opening Day served as an indicator for what is to come for UConn softball this season, the results could be promising based on the production received from freshmen players on Saturday.
Following a lengthy rain delay in the UTC Chattanooga Challenge, the Huskies (0-2) had their original schedule changed to playing Radford and Kennesaw State, rather than IUPUI and Tennessee Tech.
Despite two losses, UConn received outstanding performances from several of the freshmen players – most notably, infielder Kiwi McDaniel. She went 4-for-8 with a solo home run and two runs scored.
Sophomore Kelli Bates, as well as senior Taylor Townsend and Valerie Sadowl, each had three hits on the first day of the season – proving offensive production was present for the Huskies in their first games on real dirt.
Game 1 – Radford 8, UConn 3
Sadowl started her senior season on a strong note, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI in game one against the Highlanders, but the Huskies fell short in the opening game of the 2017 season – 8-3.
UConn scored two runs on five hits in the seventh inning, but Radford’s lead was too much to overcome. Bates joined Sadowl with three hits of her own in the loss.
Four players recorded multi-hit games for McIntyre’s squad, including Townsend and McDaniel in her collegiate debut. Sophomore Taylor Smith added an RBI hit against Radford.
Sophomore pitcher Jill Stockley got the ball as opening-day starters, throwing 4.2 innings and allowing four runs (one earned) on four hits. She recorded two strikeouts, both in the first inning. Senior Kayla Doty surrendered four runs on five hits in relief.
With UConn leading 1-0, it was a three-run home run by Radford’s Sofia Tapia off Stockley in the third inning that gave the Highlanders a permanent lead. A two-run double by Hunter Mundy in the fifth inning extended the lead to 5-1.
Koshes made her pitching debut for the Huskies in the sixth inning. The Orange, Conn. native retired both batters she faced, stranding one at third.
The Huskies left eight runners on base in the game, unable to take advantage of scoring opportunities. For both Sadowl and Bates, it was the second three-hit game of their careers.
Game 2 – Kennesaw State 5, UConn 1
McDaniel’s first collegiate home run in the third inning was the only offense the Huskies mounted against the Owls on Saturday night, as KSU spoiled Cutler’s pitching debut with a 5-1 win over UConn.
Cutler threw 4.1 innings, allowing three earned runs (four total) on seven hits while striking out two. Koshes pitched the final 1.2 innings, allowing one run on three hits and punching out four batters.
Much like in the first game of the day, UConn was able to get runners on base, but didn’t capitalize. The Huskies left eight runners on base, totaling 15 for the day against Radford and Kennesaw State.
Three freshmen – McDaniel, Casazza and Cutler – combined for five of UConn’s six hits in the game. Townsend had the other hit, her third of the day.
The Owls scored one run in five different innings, with a 3-for-4 game by Olivia Tamewitz leading the way.
In both the first and second innings, UConn had runners on second and third with just one out, but failed to bring across any runs. With those missed opportunities, the Huskies weren’t able to overcome the KSU lead.
UConn is scheduled to play another doubleheader on Sunday, facing IUPUI at 9 a.m. and Chattanooga at 11:30 a.m. in the UTC Chattanooga Challenge.