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BOCA RATON, Fla. – On the final day of the FAU Tournament, the UConn softball team nearly pulled-off a doubleheader sweep – using a combination of run-producing hits and dominant pitching to split Saturday’s games.
Senior Valerie Sadowl led the Huskies (3-5) offensively, going 5-for-8 with two RBI and three runs scored in a 6-0 win over Florida A&M and 3-2 loss to Arkansas in eight innings. Sophomore Taylor Smith and freshman Devon Casazza each added a home run.
Pitching stole the show for UConn, however, as sophomore Jill Stockley fired a one-hit shutout in the first game – earning her second win of the season. Freshman Katie Koshes went the distance in game two, striking out five in 7.1 innings of work.
The Huskies went 1-3 in the FAU Tournament, but played tight games against one ranked opponent and two teams receiving votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Poll.
Game 1 – UConn 6, Florida A&M 0
Stockley’s ace pitching was evident against Florida A&M (1-12-1), as she dominated the Rattlers in a complete-game effort. She allowed just one hit, while racking up five strikeouts and five walks in the 6-0 victory.
A plentiful amount of run support backed up Stockley (2-2) in the circle, as the Huskies recorded eight hits in the game – including Sadowl’s 3-for-4 effort with two RBI and two runs scored.
Casazza had a multi-hit game of her own, including her team-leading second home run of the season to put the Huskies on the board in the second inning. Sadowl and Cutler each added RBI hits in the third, making it 3-0 UConn.
Looking for insurance late in the game, a two-run blast by Smith in the fifth inning led to a three-spot in the frame – extending UConn’s lead to 6-0 and giving Stockley some breathing room.
With runners in scoring position, UConn batters were 5-for-10 at the dish, while Stockley held Florida A&M hitters to 0-for-6 in those opportunities. The Husky starter stranded eight runners on base, keeping the Rattlers scoreless.
Game 2 – Arkansas 3, UConn 2 (F/8)
Had it not been for the complete-game effort of Koshes (0-1) in Saturday’s second game, UConn would not have had as much of a chance to knock-off a formidable Southeastern Conference opponent.
In 7.1 inning, Koshes struck-out five batters and scattered seven hits, allowing just three runs (two earned) in her outing. The Razorbacks (10-1) had a runner on third in the eighth, when a wild pitch by Koshes scored the game-winning run.
Leading up to the final inning, Koshes had stranded nine Arkansas runners on base – keeping the game tied after freshman Kiwi McDaniel picked up an RBI on a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning, making the game 2-2.
Sadowl and Cutler each recorded two hits in the game, including Cutler’s RBI single in the first inning to put the Huskies in front. It was the fourth time this season that UConn has scored in the first frame.
The Razorbacks tied the game in the third with an RBI double and took the lead in the fourth with a sacrifice fly. Koshes got out of bases loaded jams in the second and fifth innings, and didn’t allow a base runner in the sixth or seventh.
Out of 53.1 innings this season, Stockley and Koshes have combined to pitch 38 of them for the Huskies, as Saturday may serve as a precursor for UConn’s pitching rotation decisions moving forward.
UConn plays in the Coastal Carolina Invitational in Conway, S.C. on March 4 and 5. Both days have scheduled doubleheaders against a mix of Northern Kentucky, Coastal Carolina and North Dakota.