A week after getting its first win of the season the UConn baseball team will travel to Georgia to take on No. 24 Kennesaw State (5-2). The Huskies (2-4) are coming off a series win against Siena last weekend. A year ago, KSU reached the NCAA Super Regional round and serve as the biggest test so far this season.
Against Siena, the Huskies got a major boost from their offense. Across the three games, UConn scored 27 runs to give them a 2-1 series advantage. Joe Deroche-Duffin led the way, driving in eight runs and Vinny Siena knocked in six. “It’s a frustrating game. You wish you could put some runs in the bank and have some for those games when you aren’t scoring. We had really good at bats all weekend,” coach Jim Penders said. “(A lot of our RBIs) were on hits in the gap or to the opposite field. None of them were pulled. It’s something we constantly preach. We want to reinforce that with the guys, know what the opposition is going to do.”
Duffin has paced the Huskies all season, putting up a .438/.609/.813 slash line, adding a home run, three doubles and nine RBIs.
“In the preseason, we weren’t too optimistic, he struggled. He was swinging and missing a lot…But we knew that eventually he would start clicking. When the lights come on, he plays with a real looseness. He has a lot of fun and our guys have noticed that,” Penders said. “He drives the baseball. He gets his hacks until he gets two strikes. H’s made huge adjustments, hitting with two strikes. He’s done a really good job.”
Look for the Huskies to continue to get excellent starting pitching this weekend. Jordan Tabakman, Carson Cross and Anthony Kay have combined to throw 39.0 innings and allowed just nine runs.
“They showed that in the preseason. We knew it would be a strength. We’re thankful for these performances. I have a feeling that we can be in every game we play,” Penders said.
This weekend serves as a nice litmus test early in the season for UConn. Kennesaw State is a nationally ranked team that has gotten off to a hot start. Penders noted, “It’s a great challenge. It’s a great story, how fast they’ve developed as a program. We’re going to have a heck of a task. I don’t think our guys should be in awe of it, though. Now, we’re seeing top 25 teams in our conference all the time. It’s a weekend we have to prepare for like a conference weekend…It’s going to be a close simulation to what we’re going to see in the American.”
The Huskies open up play Friday afternoon at 4, then 2 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday. The games can be heard on WHUS.