PROVIDENCE, R.I. (March 25, 2007) -- The University of Connecticut softball team rallied from a seven run deficit to force extra innings but ended up falling by a 9-8 score in eight innings to Syracuse University on Sunday afternoon. Due to poor field conditions in Storrs, the game was played at Providence College’s Raymond Field.
With the loss in their BIG EAST opener, the Huskies dip to 10-8 overall on the year while the Orange ups its seasonal mark to 9-20 overall and 2-1 in league action.
Micah Truax, Jillian Ortega and Danielle Del Ponte all hit home runs for the Huskies who trailed 7-0 in the fourth inning. UConn would battle and knot the score at 8-8 by the home half of the sixth inning but saw the Orange capture the victory with a single run in the eighth. The eight runs scored tie for the most posted by UConn in a losing effort since a 23-13 loss to Barrington in 1975, the program’s inaugural campaign.
The Orange opened the scoring in the top of the second. With a pair of runners aboard after walks, Erin Gray cracked a towering three-run home run over the center field fence and through the rear windshield of a black sedan in the second row of the parking lot.
SU pushed across two more runs in both the third and fourth innings to extend its lead to 7-0. The two runs in the third crossed the plate after both Gray and Lindsay Wasek drew bases loaded walks with two outs. The Orange’s rally in the fourth came courtesy of a timely double steal that was followed by a solid single to center by Rachel Tilford.
A run away from being mercy ruled, UConn began to whittle away at its deficit in the home half of the fourth inning when the Huskies plated four runs. Holly Calcagno got the ball rolling instantly by knocking the first pitch of the frame into left field for a single. After an error allowed Katie Dombrowski to reach base with Calcagno at second, Jessica Quan sent the first pitch that she saw into left field for an RBI double. Two batters later, Truax emptied the bases with a three-run homer to right that cleared the Raymond Field scoreboard, making it a 7-4 game.
The Orange scratched out an unearned run in the top of the fifth when Wasek was hit by a pitch, advanced to second on a passed ball and came around to score on a single down the right field line by Nicole Miller.
The UConn rally continued in the bottom half of the frame when Del Ponte crushed her first home run of the year, a solo shot, to center field. The Huskies picked up the three runs they needed to tie the game at 8-8 in the sixth inning. Quan drew a one out walk and Meghan Tierney reached on an infield single. With two outs, Ortega delivered a three-run homer just over the fence in left field to level the score.
Ev Anderson, SU’s leadoff batter, did her job by opening the eighth with a walk. Anderson advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Keri Casas and wheeled around to score on a chopped single up the middle by Tonye McCorkle. With two runners on and one out, the Huskies dodged a deeper hole after Tilford popped up to Ortega at short and Amy Kelley tapped back to pitcher Kristina Tolles.
Not going quietly, the Huskies loaded the bases in the bottom half of the frame with one out but were unable to push across the tying run after a pair of ground outs.
Tolles, the Huskies’ third pitcher of the game, took the loss for UConn after four innings of relief in which she allowed two runs, one earned. Krista Michalczyk started the game for UConn and went one and two thirds innings, allowing three runs. Rachel Crossin took over in the Syracuse half of the second and lasted two and one third innings, yielding four runs. Brittany Gardner went the distance for the Orange, allowing eight runs, four earned, while fanning eight to earn her fifth win of the year.
The Huskies will return to action on Monday in Providence with a mixed conference doubleheader. UConn will face Syracuse at 11:00 a.m. before taking on Pittsburgh in a single game.