May 8, 2014
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HOUSTON, Tex. - UConn softball fell to top-seeded UCF in first round action of the American Athletic Conference Championship on Thursday evening in Houston. The Knights scored six runs on five home runs to take the 6-0 shutout win over the Huskies. UCF (40-15) advances to face the winner of Rutgers and Houston in The American semifinals on Friday.
Connecticut stranded 10 batters on base in the effort, finishing with four hits against the regular season conference champions. The Huskies close their 2013-14 campaign with a record of 13-38 and a 3-17 finish in their inaugural season in The American.
Freshman pitcher Kayla Doty (Ghent, N.Y.) started strong in the circle, retiring the first four batters she faced before Houston native Mariah Garcia took her deep for the first of her two home runs on the day. Garcia poked one to center field for the 1-0 UCF lead in the bottom of the second inning. The Knights would go on to post at least one run each in their final four at bats on home runs by Farrah Sullivan (2), Garcia (2) and Samantha McCloskey to create a 6-0 cushion.
The Huskies' best chance to get on the board came in the third inning, when Emily O'Donnell (Niskayuna, N.Y.) singled, Maddy Schiappa (Bedford, N.H.) was hit by a pitch and Valerie Sadowl (Horsham, Pa.) drew a walk to load the bases. Audrey Grinnell (Saco, Me.) dug in and sent a ball to the opposite field that UCF left fielder Linnea Goodman was able to track down for the final out of the inning.
Taylor Townsend (Yorba Linda, Calif.) looked to get a rally going in the seventh frame after a shot to the left field gap earned her a leadoff double. A strikeout by Dominique Pinto (Newtown, Pa.) brought up O'Donnell, who reached after McCloskey dropped another throw to first base. The leftie Maddy Schiappa hit a hard ball to right field that UCF outfielder Maggie Schroeder tracked down for the second out. Sadowl kept the rally going with her second walk of the day to load the bases for the second time on the afternoon. A ground out to first base by Grinnell ended the game.
O'Donnell paced the Huskies on the offensive side of the game, going two-for-three with a pair of singles on the day. Lexi Gifford (Natick, Mass.) proved invaluable in the UConn infield this afternoon, assisting on five putouts that featured some tricky situations.
Mackenzie Audas pitched the complete game shutout for UCF, holding the Huskies to four hits through seven innings to pick up her 18th win of the season. Doty took the loss as the starter, finishing at 3-9 on the season. Alyson Ambler (Walla Walla, Wash.) started the third inning and allowed one run on three hits before being replaced by Lauren Duggan (Norwood, Mass.). Duggan tossed the final 2.2 innings, allowing two runs.