GREENVILLE, N.C. – The No. 7 seed UConn softball team was eliminated from the American Athletic Conference Tournament on Wednesday afternoon, falling 7-0 to No. 2 seed Houston at the ECU Softball Complex.
Five different Huskies (17-31, 3-14 American) recorded hits against the Cougars, but seven runners were left stranded on base. Houston moves on to the AAC Semifinals on Thursday to play No. 6 seed ECU.
Freshman pitcher Katie Koshes (8-8) picked up the loss in the circle, allowing three runs on three hits in 1.2 innings of work. Sophomore Jill Stockley pitched in relief, surrendering four runs on three hits in 4.1 frames.
UConn was plagued by walks, as Koshes and Stockley combined for eight against the Cougars – who stranded seven base runners themselves. Savannah Heebner got the win for Houston, striking out six in her five-hit scoreless shutout.
“Houston was a tough matchup for us; it is a solid team. They do a great job of making offensive adjustments and they have someone in the circle who spots her pitches well,” said head coach Jen McIntyre. “Hats off to them. It’s just a matter of running into a good team.”
The Cougars managed just six hits, but scored at least once in each of the first five innings with timely hitting and help from UConn pitchers. Koshes threw two wild pitches and Stockley hit a pair of Houston batters.
“Anytime you are in tournament play, everyone is dealing with the same cards. It’s win or go home and it’s a great learning experience for our players,” said McIntyre of starting her freshman lefty. Koshes had a team-high 121 strikeouts going into Wednesday.
Freshman Carli Cutler, named to the All-AAC Second Team and Rookie Team earlier on Wednesday, ended the season on a three-game hitting streak – improving her team-best batting average to .309.
The Cougars scored in the first inning on an RBI double from Kaylin Crumpton, putting them in front, 1-0. Houston scored twice in the second, including a run off consecutive wild pitches from Koshes – leading to Stockley’s entrance.
The Huskies had a chance in the fourth when junior Emma Stanley smacked a double with two outs and freshman Chloe Kerns followed with a walk, but both were stranded, allowing Houston to maintain its 4-0 edge.
RBI singles from Houston’s Maya Thomas and Sarah Queen over the next two innings put the game out of reach. The Huskies loaded the bases in the sixth, but a fly-out by pinch hitter Devon Casazza ended the threat.
“(This season) isn’t about one game. It’s about the contributions of the senior class and what it has been able to give to this program,” said McIntyre.
As for early offseason goals for the Huskies, McIntyre stressed one certain focus.
“I hope everyone just digs in and gets back to work. They need time to rest and let their bodies heal,” said McIntyre. “Like I told the seniors, you never know when the last game is coming – it happens fast. I hope the returners use that to their advantage.”