The UConn softball team faced a tough test this weekend on the road against conference rival UCF. The Knights’ impressive pitching performances, earning a three-game sweep over the Huskies at the UCF Softball Complex in Orlando, made it clear how they have been so successful this season.
The sweep marked a poor start to conference play for UConn (10-20, 0-3 American) despite coming into the series on a two-game win streak. In game one of Saturday’s double-header, junior Shelby Turnier led the charge for UCF (33-5, 5-0 American), silencing UConn’s bats with a no-hitter. Turnier improved her record to 16-0, while freshman Chelsea Eckert did what she could to match her effort for UConn. The rapidly improving freshman held the Knights to two runs in six innings of work. Although she only recorded one strikeout, she was able to limit UCF to five hits and one walk. UConn was able to push across one run in the top of the seventh inning after Alyson Ambler was able to draw a walk for the Huskies first base runner of the game. However, Turnier was able to hold on for the 2-1 victory.
It was much of the same in game two of the series, as UCF collected another 2-1 win. Mackenzie Audas, another undefeated UCF starter, picked up her 16th win of the season after five innings of work. UConn’s offense picked up with five hits and four walks, but was unable to do any major damage. Senior Emily O’Donnell, UConn’s RBI leader, drove in the Huskies’ only run with a single in the fifth inning. It was another encouraging performance on the mound for UConn senior Lauren Duggan who surrendered only two runs in six innings of work.
The UConn bats suffered the same struggles on Sunday, once again pushing across only one run in a 6-1 loss to the Knights. The run came on a solo shot from junior Lexi Gifford. Audas got the start for UCF, but split duties with Turnier, who pitched the final three innings and recorded the save. Audas and Turnier combined for 14 strikeouts in the game and gave up only one hit a piece. The Knights had more success facing Eckert in game three, scoring five runs in 4.1 innings before Duggan came in for 1.2 innings of scoreless relief.
UConn will look to snap their three-game skid this Tuesday when they head to Amherst to take on regional rival UMass in a one-game series.