The UConn softball team carries a 4-6 record down to the campus of Oklahoma State for five games in the Mizuno Classic this weekend. The Huskies begin the tournament with a 1 p.m. showdown against the University of Missouri-Kansas City on Friday, followed by a 7 p.m. matchup with Oklahoma State. On Saturday, UConn is set to face off against Evansville University, who they defeated 6-3 earlier this season. The final two games of the weekend, one Saturday and one Sunday, will be determined by the results of the previous games.
The Huskies enter the tournament on a four-game losing streak, but head coach Jen McIntyre remains optimistic about the potential of her team early in the season.
“We’re trying to give a lot of people a lot of opportunities, so when we’re coming down the stretch in April and May they’ve had a lot of at bats so it’s not something that’s new,” she said.
McIntyre would like to see improvement in all facets of the game at the Mizuno Classic, starting with the offense, which has scuffled during the current four-game skid.
“We want the offense to start to come around and put up a lot of runs so that our pitchers can relax a little bit and our defense can really play aggressively,” she said.
The Huskies have employed a pitch-by-committee approach so far this season and will use the same strategy this weekend. Senior Lauren Duggan and sophomore Kayla Doty have two wins each this season, while junior Alyson Ambler and freshman Chelsea Eckert have both made appearances.
“It’s going to be based on who our matchups are and who we think is going to be the best counter-attack to our opponent,” McIntyre said about her pitching rotation for the tournament.
Friday’s opponents are having very different seasons thus far. While UMKC is off to a solid 8-5 start to their season, Oklahoma State sits at 5-11, including a loss to the Huskies’ Saturday opponent, a struggling Evansville team (4-14). However, McIntyre stressed the importance of maintaining a winning attitude in every game, no matter the opponent.
“We go into every weekend as if it’s a weekend that we’re shooting to win, and regardless of who our opponents are,” she said. “We have goals we are working on within our program.”
The Mizuno Classic offers the Huskies a golden opportunity to translate their hard work towards those goals out on the field.
“We’re hoping that if we can take care of the ball on defense, get a great start on the mound, minimize our walks, and really start to click offensively, we’re going to be in good shape,” McIntyre said.