March 12, 2014
STORRS, Conn. – UConn Softball returns to the diamond for the Michele Smith Spring Break Tournament in Clearwater, Florida March 14-16. The Huskies (4-10) picked up a trio of wins last weekend at the Winthrop/Adidas Invitational and will look to continue that momentum when they open against Central Michigan (14-7) at 4:30pm on Friday afternoon.
The Huskies will face Wagner (4-8) in the latter game on Friday, with the first pitch scheduled for 6:45pm. On Saturday UConn will square off against Miami (Ohio) (6-10) before a big matinee with No. 12 Baylor (17-4) at 2:15pm. Connecticut wraps up tournament competition with a morning game against University of Wisconsin-Green Bay on Sunday at 11:15am.
The Huskies added a trio of wins to their overall record last weekend, downing Wright State by a score of 6-1 and winning a pair of extra-inning thrillers against Youngstown State and Eastern Kentucky by final scores of 3-2. Junior pitcher Lauren Duggan (Norwood, Mass.) collected two of the wins to improve to improve to 3-6 on the season while freshman Kayla Doty (Ghent, N.Y.) earned her first career win as a Husky in the victory over Wright State.
“We’re really pleased with the progress we’ve seen in our pitching staff,” said head coach Karen Mullins of the Huskies’ effort on the mound last weekend. “When we talk about the team turning a corner, we really feel that Lauren took a big step forward for us, too. She pitched competitively and completed those games in tough situations. Both of them ended in ties and went to the international tie breaker – runner on second base. She handled it really well and took care of the batters and we were able to put a run across for her. Her maturity is going to be important to us.”
Valerie Sadowl (Horsham, Pa.) continues to lead both the team and the American Athletic Conference with a .471 batting average. She has racked up 16 hits on 34 at bats this season and boasts a slugging percentage of .794. Ranking second on the team in hitting is Emily O’Donnell (Niskayuna, N.Y.), who is batting .302 and leads the team with seven runs. Audrey Grinnell (Saco, Maine) leads the squad with eight RBIs. “Offensively, we’ve done some really good things,” Coach Mullins commented. “We’re starting to see some hitters getting on track, so the pieces are starting to fall into place.”
Looking ahead to the weekend games, Coach Mullins pointed out that some challenges await. “Central Michigan is off to a great start. They are 14-7 and have some power, some speed. They’ve played a strong schedule so that will be a challenge. Like I said before, we take it one game at a time, we play our game. We certainly expect Central Michigan and Baylor to be challenges. Baylor is 17-4 and No. 12 in the country – they are a real powerful team with some great pitching. So we’re going to continue to see some real good teams and some teams that are just out of the gate, like us, so we will be all over the place again. Hopefully we can pick up where we left off and pick up a few more wins to prepare us for what awaits us at the end of the week – the beginning of our conference opener.”
This weekend marks the Huskies final tournament before the team faces Florida Gulf Coast and Florida Atlantic March 18 and 20, respectively. UConn embarks on its inaugural conference schedule in the American on March 22 on the road against USF.