Softball: UConn hopes to snap losing streak in College Station
Coming off of a 0-5 start at the NFCA Lead-Off Classic, UConn softball is hoping to prevent the worst start in team history with a strong showing at the Texas A&M Invitational this weekend in College Station, TX.
Starting Friday, UConn will play the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders, Texas A&M Aggies and Wisconsin Badgers over the course of the weekend. The No. 13 Aggies and 2013 Big Ten Champion Badgers are some of the stiffest competition Coach Mullins and her team will face all season, and UConn's long time coach would not want it any other way.
"We feel like going through the fire is going to get us ready for our conference," Mullins said.
UConn faces Texas A&M Corpus Christi in game one of both Friday and Saturday's doubleheaders. The Islanders are 3-11 on the season, relying heavily on their offensive attack to balance out their inexperienced pitching. The Islanders are batting .333 with 11 home runs as a team, but the teams main pitcher, freshman Liz Carter, has a team low 6.10 ERA over 49.1 innings pitched.
In the second game of the doubleheaders, the Huskies face the host of the tournament, Texas A&M. The Aggies have talent and power from top to bottom, hitting 19 home runs and batting .328 as a team, with three players batting over .400. This high-powered offense has guided them to a 12-4 record this season.
To end the Invitational, UConn will square off against Wisconsin, who is 4-5 this season. Wisconsin's record does not reflect their talent, as they have lost to No. 1 Florida twice this season and still have numerous players from last year's Big Ten Championship team. Walk on Maria Van Abel leads the Badgers in hits, batting average, and total bases.
In order for the Huskies to be successful this weekend, they will need sophomore Val Sadowl and junior Emily O'Donnell to continue playing well. These two infielders are the backbone of the offense and their performance will play a major role in run production for UConn.
Sadowl made the NFCA Lead-Off Classic All Tournament team and the American Athletic Conference honor roll for her performance last week, where she hit .615 with a home run and four doubles.
O'Donnell has been a spark plug for the UConn lineup, hitting .353 and reaching base in every game last weekend. After the first two games, Coach Mullins moved O'Donnell into the leadoff spot to help ignite the offense.
"We moved her into the lead off position because she's such a tone setter for us. She's just a real fiery kid," Mullins said.
Pitching has been a problem for the Huskies so far this season, best shown by their team ERA of 7.03. Senior Lauren Duggan has four of the team's five losses, but showed improvement in the team's final games of the weekend. Freshman Kayla Doty had a rocky start but adjusted and turned in a stellar performance to end her weekend.
Mullins plans on using these pitchers for a few innings each early in the season before eventually stretching out their starts as the season progresses.
Coach Mullins believes quality at bats and getting pitchers on track are two keys for the Huskies in order to avoid starting the season 0-6 or worse for the first time in school history.
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