MANSFIELD, Conn. - Junior OF Alyssa Gardea cracked two home runs and threw out a runner at the plate as the University of Connecticut softball team swept conference foe Memphis in a doubleheader played at Mansfield Outdoor Athletic Complex on Sunday afternoon. The Huskies topped the Tigers, 8-7, in game one before earning a 4-3 walkoff win in game two.
With the series win, UConn moves to 14-23 on the season, surpassing its win total from a season ago, and matches its number of conference wins from 2014 (3). The Tigers drop to 14-22, including a 2-6 mark in American Athletic Conference Play.
Senior RHP Lauren Duggan (8-9) earned her 14th start of the season, tossing 7.0 innings of five-run ball to earn her team-leading eighth win of the year. Molly Smith (3-5) took the loss in relief for Memphis, surrendering four earned runs on three hits in 3.2 innings of work.
The Tigers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first, taking advantage of two hits and an E9. Memphis manufactured another in the top of the second, pushing the lead to 3-0.
The Huskies threatened in the home of the second, putting two one with one out after Duggan and Jacklyn Dubois earned back-to-back walks but Brignac worked out of the jam after getting a strikeout and an inning-ending fly out.
The Huskies responded in a huge way in the third, scoring seven times on two hits and five walks. Taylor Townsend and Emily O'Donnell worked one-out walks before Alyson Ambler cranked an RBI double over the center fielder's head. Three-straight walks pushed across two more before Gardea put the Huskies on top with a grand slam over the left field wall. For Gardea, it marked her second homerun of the season and third of her three-year career.
The team added an insurance run in the fourth after Ambler sent a ringing RBI single into centerfield to score O'Donnell.
The Tigers scored once in the seventh inning and got the tying run to second but Duggan induced a game-ending flyout to right field to secure the Huskies' second conference win of the year.
In the win, UConn secured its 13th win of the season in 36 games. The team won 13 games in the 2014 campaign in 51 games.
Freshman RHP Chelsea Eckert (4-9) earned her fourth win of the year, going the distance and allowing just three runs (one earned) on eight hits with a strikeout. Memphis' Jordan Richwood, who won on Friday, took the loss after surrendering all four Husky runs on seven hits with three walks.
The Huskies scored first in the second game, using small ball to manufacture a run. Junior SS Lexi Gifford opened the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a passed ball. After a sac bunt, O'Donnell grounded out to second, scoring Gifford and picking up her first RBI of the afternoon. UConn upped its lead to 2-0 in the second when Townsend ripped a run-scoring double over the out-stretched glove of the left fielder.
After gunning down a runner at the plate in the top of the third, Gardea connected on her second homerun of the afternoon, this time blasting a solo shot to left.
The Tigers evened things up in the sixth, scoring three times on three hits and taking advantage of a Husky error.
UConn walked off with the win in the seventh after O'Donnell singled home Townsend, who began the inning with a flare to right field.
The squad returns to the diamond on Tuesday, April 14 when it travels to Hartford, Conn. to take on the Hawks. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.