HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – The University of Connecticut softball team swept its opening day at the Hofstra Invitational in Hempstead, N.Y. The Huskies started the day with a 5-0 shutout win over St. John’s before defeating Hofstra, 9-3, in the nightcap at Bill Edwards Stadium. With the victories, UConn improves to 6-14.
Game One – vs. St. John’s
Sophomore RHP Chelsea Eckert (2-7) picked up her second-straight complete-game victory. She allowed four hits and recorded a season-high seven strikeouts. Grace Kramer (4-2) was charged with the loss for the Red Strom after surrendering four earned runs on three hits in 2.1 innings of work.
The Huskies opened the frame on a mission, quickly putting three runs on the scoreboard. Taylor Townsend kicked the game off with a walk and Kelli Bates singled on a bunt for two on. Alyson Ambler stepped up to the plate and smashed a three-run homer over the center field fence to clear the bases and give UConn an early 3-0 advantage in the first.
In the bottom of the third, Lexi Gifford walked and stole second to get in scoring position. Ambler was retired on a fly out but it was enough to push her teammate over to third. Up next, Dominique Pinto punched a single through right center to score Gifford and extend the Huskies lead to 4-0.
St. John’s threatened in the top of the fourth after a single through the right side and a walk put two on. Eckert battled back, getting a pair to swing and miss before snagging a grounder to end the Red Storm’s offensive attack.
Pinto and Gifford teamed up once again in the fifth. Gifford walked to start the inning and Pinto reached on a fielding error by the right fielder, allowing Gifford to scamper home and put UConn up 5-0.
Game Two – at Hofstra
Righty ace Chelsea Eckert (3-7) nabbed her third overall win and first in relief with 4.0 innings in the circle where she didn’t give up a run or hit. Hofstra’s Madison Grimm (3-4) was tagged with the loss after a 3.1-inning, three-hit, five-run performance on the evening.
Freshman RHP Jill Stockley got the starting nod and went 3.0 innings for three runs, two strikeouts and 57 total pitches.
The Huskies drew first blood in the top of the second inning after posting one hit and earning four walks for an early 3-0 lead. Ambler and Dominique Pinto both walked to start things off, while Jacklyn Dubois laid down the sacrifice bunt to move the runners into scoring position. Heather Fyfe came in as a pinch hitter and slashed the ball past a diving second basemen to tally her first RBIs of the season on a two-run single and put the Huskies ahead 2-0.
In the third, Gifford and Ambler punched in back-to-back singles for the Huskies to put runners on the corners. Pinto stepped up to bat and recorded a sacrifice fly to push Gifford in as UConn went up 4-0.
The Pride responded in the home half of third after putting up two runs on a fielder’s choice and sacrifice fly. Caryn Bailey doubled to right center to bring in another run but Stockley came through with a strikeout to limit the damage and end the inning as Hofstra cut into UConn’s lead, 4-3.
The Huskies left the bases loaded in the fourth but managed to notch a run after Gifford singled through the left side to get Gardea in and increase the cushion to 5-3.
The Huskies broke the game open in top of the sixth after batting around on their way to four runs and six hits. Gardea slapped the ball for a leadoff single through center field and Townsend walked to begin the barrage. After a sacrifice bunt from Bates to move the runners, Gifford roped a double to center field to plate Gardea and Townsend. Next up, Ambler singled up the middle to score Gifford as the Huskies extended its 8-3 advantage.
The hits kept on coming as Pinto and Dubois came up with back-to-back singles to load the bases. Fyfe reached on a fielder’s choice and got Ambler across home plate for UConn to take its decisive 9-3 lead.
Gifford went 3-for-5, while Ambler was 2-for-3. Both Gifford and Fyfe tallied three RBIs in the outing. UConn also had seven different players record at least one hit.
The Huskies have now won three-straight after defeating Michigan State last Sunday. UConn will wrap up play in the Hofstra Invitational tomorrow with a 1:30 p.m. matchup with the Pride and a 4 p.m. meeting with St. John’s.