STORRS, Conn. – It was 25 years ago that the UConn softball team last played at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex.
In 1993, the Huskies went to their first and only Women’s College World Series in history, as part of a program-record 45-win season. Three All-Americans led UConn to Oklahoma City that year, including Waterbury native Pat Conlan.
Coming up this weekend, UConn returns to that site for the first time to play in the Oklahoma State Hall of Fame Classic. The Huskies will play five games in three days at OGE Energy Field and INTEGRIS Field – a pair of fields at the complex.
“That (1993 team) was a pretty special group that put UConn on the map,” said head coach Jen McIntyre. “Pat Conlan, who is the coach at Georgetown now, was an incredible athlete here…For us to do our part in honoring that tradition is what we want to do.”
Back in the early 1990s, UConn was led by head coach and future National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Famer, Karen Mullins. The Huskies won four straight Big East championships from 1990 to 1993, qualifying for the WCWS in 1993.
Not only did UConn earn a trip to OKC that season, but it recorded its first-ever win in the WCWS with a 2-1 extra-inning victory over Florida State on May 29. Since 1990, the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex has hosted the WCWS every year.
“It’s an incredible opportunity to play at our championship site and against some really tough competition,” said McIntyre. “We’ll be at a great venue with some great fans and we’re looking forward to it.”
The Huskies will play five teams over the weekend, beginning with Drake (2:30 p.m. ET) and Pacific (5:00 p.m. ET) on Friday afternoon. For some players at UConn, it will be familiar territory.
“I went to the College World Series last year, because it was right around the time we played there,” said freshman Sam Barnett (Liberty Hill, Texas), who played at the complex with her travel team, the Texas Blaze. “OKC is a big city for me; I’ve never been to New York. You get a lot of fans. It’s a good place to have it.”
Barnett lives five hours away from the complex and credited the stadium for its modern-feel and accommodating nature for large crowds. In addition, she will be within earshot of home this weekend.
“I’m really excited for this trip because I’ll see my family, who will be there supporting me,” said Barnett. “It’s a special place, the Hall of Fame Stadium…You get a little more amped for the game knowing it’s where they play the College World Series.”
Though some players have never been to the complex, they have grown accustomed to seeing the fields in May and June.
“I’ve been thinking about what I watch on TV every year,” said senior Emma Stanley. “It’s a huge atmosphere. It’ll be an amazing experience to play there.”
In terms of UConn’s connection to Oklahoma City, the trip this weekend speaks to past achievements for the Huskies, with more to come. Following the weekend in OKC, UConn heads to College Station, Texas to play the nationally-ranked Aggies.
“This trip was built to play in great venues with fans who are passionate about their home teams and that’s what we’ll get when we start conference play,” said McIntyre. “We’re going to face some talented pitching and tough hitters. We want to put our best foot forward.”
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