HONOLULU, Hawaii – The UConn softball team got off to a good start in the Rainbow Wahine Classic on Tuesday, sweeping Harvard and Hawaii in a doubleheader to begin the week on a high note.
The Huskies (8-10) heavily relied on the excellent performances of freshman pitcher Katie Koshes once again, as she struck-out 11 batters in a complete-game 2-0 shutout victory over the Rainbow Wahine.
For the day, Koshes (3-2) struck-out 12 batters and walked just one in 9.2 innings in the circle, including a relief appearance against Harvard. She picked up both wins on the rubber for UConn.
UConn recorded just six total hits on Tuesday, with none more important than a two-run home run by redshirt senior Valerie Sadowl and a go-ahead RBI single from sophomore Taylor Smith in a 4-3 win over Harvard.
Game 1 – UConn 4, Harvard 3
In a pinch-hit situation, Smith delivered the big hit for UConn in a 4-3 win over Harvard in the first game of the Rainbow Wahine Classic on Tuesday night. Smith’s RBI single in the fifth inning gave the Huskies a permanent lead.
Had it not been for the relief pitching of junior Chelsea Eckert and Koshes, however, the Huskies may not have been in a position to win. The duo combined to allow just one run on four hits in 5.2 innings of relief against Harvard.
After sophomore Jill Stockley lasted just 1.1 innings in her seventh start of the season, Eckert surrendered one run in three innings of work. She stranded four Crimson runners on base – seven total in the game for Harvard.
Down 3-2 in the fifth, senior Taylor Townsend recorded an RBI fielder’s choice on a bunt directed up the third base line. Smith then pinch-hit for sophomore Kelli Bates and delivered a single to right field, scoring freshman Ashlee Dahman and giving UConn a 4-3 edge.
Koshes took over from there, as she allowed no runs and just one hit in 2.2 innings in the circle. Her performance lowered her season ERA to a team-best 1.41 at the time.
The scoring started for the Huskies in the first inning, as Sadowl blasted a two-run home run – her second of the season – for an early 2-0 advantage.
Harvard tied the game in the second frame with two RBI singles – one off Stockley and one off Eckert. However, Eckert managed to strand two runners on base with an inning-ending double play – snagging a line drive and doubling-up the runner at first.
UConn had just three hits in the game, but made the most of each one, leaving only three runners on base throughout the contest.
Game 2 – UConn 2, Hawaii 0
UConn led 1-0 in the sixth inning, as Hawaii had runners on second and third base with just one out. Unfortunately for the Rainbow Wahine, Koshes was in the circle.
As part of her complete-game win – her second in the past three days – Koshes struck-out a season-high 11 batters to lead the Huskies to a 2-0 victory and a sweep of Tuesday’s doubleheader.
In a pitchers’ duel, the Huskies managed two runs on three hits – plenty for Koshes considering her two-hit shutout. Freshman Carli Cutler had a double in the win, while freshman Kiwi McDaniel added an RBI single.
Koshes was in a tight spot in that sixth inning, but a foul out and fly out got her out of the jam and the shutout intact. The UConn pitcher now has an ERA of 1.18 in 41.2 innings this season.
The Huskies scored in the first inning on a sacrifice fly from freshman Chloe Kerns, plating sophomore Kelli Bates from third. Another run wouldn’t be scored by either team until the seventh, when McDaniel picked up her seventh RBI of the season.
Koshes struck-out five batters in the first two innings and nine after the first four. It is the second time she has recorded double-digit strikeouts in a game, after she had 10 against North Dakota on March 5.
Five Hawaii runners were stranded on base throughout the contest, as Koshes eclipsed the 50-strikeout mark in her performance. She now has 51 strikeouts to just 12 walks in her first 12 appearances as a Husky.
The Huskies play another doubleheader on Wednesday night in the Rainbow Wahine Classic, facing-off against Purdue at 7:30 p.m. (ET) and Marist at 10 p.m. (ET).