April 25, 2014
STORRS, Conn. – UConn softball will travel to conference foe Rutgers University for a weekend series beginning Saturday, April 26. The Huskies (13-31, 3-11 The American) are fresh off a big win over rival UMass after a 4-2 victory on Thursday afternoon at the Burrill Family Field in Storrs. The Scarlet Knights (22-16, 5-7 The American) enter weekend play after a convincing 13-3 (5) win over St. John’s on Wednesday afternoon.
Play begins with a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon with the first game set to start at 12:00pm ET and the second to follow shortly after the conclusion of the first. The two teams will return to the field on Sunday, April 27 for another noon-time contest to wrap the series. UConn has gone 45-26-2 against Rutgers in the all-time series, taking the first game in a three-game set last season in Piscataway, N.J.
Leading the Huskies of late has been sophomore centerfielder Alyssa Gardea (Corona, Calif.). The California native concluded her rookie season with two RBIs and two runs scored. She has already surpassed those numbers with five runs batted in and 13 runs scored to help drive the UConn offense.
No time this season has she been more dangerous on the base paths than in the last five games. With a .500 on base percentage, Gardea has batted .455 and recorded four runs over the past five contests. On Thursday, Gardea accounted for half the Huskies’ total runs after scoring a pair in the 4-2 win over the Minutewomen.
Another sophomore posing a dangerous offensive threat for the Huskies has been Valerie Sadowl (Horsham, Pa.). Sadowl continues to represent Connecticut among conference batting leaders, ranking tenth in The American with a .349 average. Over the last five games the second baseman has racked up five hits, including two doubles, and led the squad with five RBI’s. Her short blooper to center field on Thursday gave UConn a lead it would never relinquish and marked her 20th RBI of the year. She and junior Emily O’Donnell (Niskayuna, N.Y.) are tied for second on the team with 37 hits apiece.
Freshman catcher Dominique Pinto (Newtown, Pa.) has been a consistent force behind the plate for the Huskies and, recently, has posted solid numbers from the batter’s box. The rookie has four hits in the last five games and batted in two runs in addition to scoring one of her own.
Connecticut will face a Rutgers team that rosters three of the most prolific hitters in the league. Jackie Bates leads The American with a .407 batting average and is dangerous with runners on base, sporting 35 runs batted in this season. Chandler Howard ranks second on the squad and third in the conference with a .397 batting average stemming from a team-high 52 hits. Rutgers’ Stephanie Huang represents the sixth-highest average in the American with a .375 showing from the plate.
The series against Rutgers represents UConn’s penultimate conference matchup before the inaugural American Athletic Conference Championship commences on May 8 in Houston, Texas. Following this weekend, the Huskies will face Boston College and Sacred Heart in a pair of midweek non-conference matchups before the season home finale against UCF on May 3 and 4. The doubleheader on May 3 will serve as Connecticut’s annual Strike Out Cancer fundraiser, while Connecticut will honor its three seniors on the Sunday regular season closer. More information on both the Strike Out Cancer game and Senior Day will be released early next week.