ATLANTA, Ga. – The UConn softball team showed promising signs all over the field against Georgia State on Friday, including three home runs in the second game, but it dropped both contests to the Panthers on the first day of the I-75 Challenge.
The Huskies (7-9) received strong pitching in the first game from junior Jill Stockley and sophomore Katie Koshes, but fell 2-0, unable to take advantage of scoring chances. In game two, the bats came alive – but UConn was outdueled, 9-7.
Redshirt freshman Olivia Sappington smacked two home runs in the second game, the first Husky to have a multi-home run performance since Kiwi McDaniel against Northern Kentucky last season on March 4.
In addition, sophomore Carli Cutler blasted her first home run of the season as part of UConn’s 11-hit output in game two against Georgia State. Four players had multi-hit days, including sophomore Kiwi McDaniel and freshman Briana Marcelino.
UConn returns to action in the I-75 Challenge on Saturday when it plays Georgia Tech in a doubleheader, beginning at 1 p.m.
Game 1 – Georgia State 2, UConn 0
Jill Stockley and Katie Koshes posted six innings in the circle, allowing just two runs while combining for eight strikeouts and one walk, but the Huskies left six runners on base in a 2-0 loss to Georgia State in the weekend opener.
Koshes relieved Stockley (2-4), picking up five strikeouts in three innings of work for the Huskies. Four different players had hits for UConn, including Briana Marcelino – a native of Easton, Conn.
The Panthers scored a run in the first and second innings off Stockley, jumping out to an early 2-0 advantage. However, over the next four frames, UConn’s pitching shut down Georgia State – stranding six runners on base in the game.
UConn’s best chance came in the sixth inning, when it loaded the bases with one out against pitcher Emily Soles – who picked up the complete-game win – following a double by Sappington, walk by freshman Hollis Wivell and hit by pitch from Cutler.
Marcelino grounded into a fielder’s choice, resulting in a force-out at the plate, before freshman Maura Glatczak popped out to leave the go-ahead run on first base. UConn went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
It is the fourth loss by two or fewer runs this season for UConn, but the ninth contest where the pitching had held an opponent to two or fewer runs in the first 16 games.
MID 5 | UConn showing some HR power!
Two-run homer from @carli_alayna, followed by a solo shot from @ohhh_sapp - her second blast of the day - to give the Huskies a 5-4 lead. #PhaseWhy pic.twitter.com/tgRC3rD4Ox
— UConn Softball (@UConnSoftball) March 2, 2018
Game 2 – Georgia State 9, UConn 7
Facing a four-run deficit in the seventh inning, the Huskies made a comeback in the final frame against Georgia State, which ultimately fell short with the bases loaded in a 9-7 decision in the second game on Friday.
Sappington and Cutler each went 3-for-4 and combined for three home runs, five RBI and five runs scored in a masterful offensive performance, as UConn matched a season-high with 11 hits against the Panthers.
UConn scored a pair of runs in the seventh, with a fielding error on a hit by senior Emma Stanley and a walk with the bases loaded by Maura Glatczak. Down 9-7, the Huskies had three runners on, but a pop-out by Devon Casazza ended the game.
The Huskies fought back from 4-2 and 9-5 deficits, using their offensive explosion to stay tight with Georgia State and its 16 hits. Freshman pitcher Marybeth Olson (3-3) picked up the loss for UConn, allowing eight runs in 4.1 innings.
Leading 5-4 in the fifth inning, the Panthers pieced together a four-run inning off Olson, taking an 8-5 lead. UConn originally was down 4-2, but a three-run fifth for the Huskies gave them the lead after a two-run homer from Cutler and solo shot by Sappington.
Sappington hit a two-run homer in the first inning to give UConn an early 2-0 lead. She has a team-high three home runs this season and is hitting a team-best .333 (16-for-48) at the plate, coming off a redshirt year due to injury.
UConn and Georgia State combined to leave 15 runners on base in the game, leaving opportunities on the base paths, but totaled 16 runs and 27 hits in a scoring carousel.
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