March 22, 2014
TAMPA, Fla. - The University of Connecticut softball team suffered a pair of losses to South Florida in doubleheader action on Saturday afternoon in Florida. UConn (5-19, 0-2 American) drops its first games in the American Athletic Conference while the Bulls (28-8, 2-0 American) claim their first wins in the new conference after clinching the 2013 Big East Championship last season.
The first game of Saturday's doubleheader saw USF defeat Connecticut by a final score of 6-2. The teams remained scoreless through the third inning until a Juli Weber RBI double put USF up 1-0. In the fourth inning Tacoia Williams blasted a solo home run to provide USF a 2-0 cushion. The Bulls used a four-run fifth inning to take firm command of the scoreboard, extending the lead to 6-0.
Showing resilience, the Huskies rebounded to score a pair of unanswered runs to close the game. Dominique Pinto (Newtown, Pa.) reached base on an error and advanced to second on a Taylor Townsend (Yorba Linda, Calif.) sacrifice bunt. A wild pitch enabled the freshman to advance to third, where she scored on Maddy Schiappa's (Bedford, N.H.) infield single.
UConn struck again in the seventh inning when Audrey Grinnell (Saco, Maine) singled up the middle and scored on a long double to right center field off the bat of Alyson Ambler (Walla Walla, Wash.). The Huskies were unable to close the gap, as USF pitcher Sara Nevins ended the game with her 15th strikeout in a complete game win. She improved her record to 16-4 on the season while Lauren Duggan (Norwood, Mass.) took the loss in 4.1 innings of work to fall to 4-9 on the season.
In game two of the doubleheader, USF again jumped out to an early lead with a pair of runs in the second inning. The Huskies were able to answer quickly, however, and cut the lead in half to 2-1 in the third inning. Maddy Schiappa singled up the middle to reach base and stole second to put herself in scoring position. The savvy move paid off, as Alyson Ambler again delivered a timely RBI through the left side of the infield to put UConn on the board.
Another five runs by the Bulls swelled the lead to 7-1 heading into the final inning and USF looked to have the game well in hand, but Connecticut valiantly rallied to come within one run of tying the game. The effort began right from the first batter in the top of the seventh inning, as Valerie Sadowl (Horsham, Pa.) took a pitch to the body and reached base on the hit. Townsend was also struck by a wild pitch to put runners on first and second with no outs, at which point USF replaced pitcher Sam Greiner with Nevins. This time around the Huskies solved Nevins, as Maddy Schiappa beat out an infield grounder to the short stop to load the bases with one out. Junior Emily O'Donnell (Niskayuna, N.Y.) hit a clutch single to centerfield that scored Sadowl and Townsend. Senior Audrey Grinnell provided the heroics with a big three-run homer to left field that brought the Huskies within one, but UConn was unable to sustain the comeback and tie the game. USF hang on to win by a final score of 7-6.
Katelyn Callahan (Queensbury, N.Y.) took the loss in 1.1 innings of work while Kayla Doty (Ghent, N.Y.) also saw action on the mound in 4.2 innings for the Huskies. Erica Nunn tossed 5.2 innings for the Bulls to earn the win.
Grinnell lead the Huskies with 3 RBIs on the day, scoring a pair of runs and notching a pair of hits in six at bats. The senior leads the squad with four homers and 15 RBIs on the season.
The Huskies have the opportunity to avenge the losses when they face USF again tomorrow morning at 11am. Sunday's matchup will wrap up UConn's week in Florida that began with the Michele Smith Spring Break Tournament in Clearwater on March 14. Following tomorrow's action, the Huskies will return to Connecticut to host Sacred Heart in their home opener on Tuesday, March 25 at 3p.m.