By Peter Harasyko and Aaron Esposito
The UConn softball team will travel to Kingston, Rhode Island Thursday for a midweek matchup against the Rhode Island Rams.
The Huskies last played April 3, defeating USF 8-7 in a tightly contested matchup. The team has had an unexpected break, with the final game of the USF series cancelled due to poor field conditions and Wednesday’s contest against Providence cancelled so that the Friars could make up a conference game.
Despite the unexpected break, head coach Jen McIntyre expects the offense to build off of Friday’s strong performance.
“Hitting is contagious, both hot and cold,” McIntyre said. “They were really seeing the ball well at the plate, and we’re really hoping that will continue into the back half of the season.”
The Huskies scored eight runs Friday on nine hits, their highest totals since scoring 11 runs on 14 hits against San Diego State March 17. As they enter the conference season, they will need strong offensive showings to compete with some of the American Athletic Conference’s top teams.
UConn (11-22) will have the opportunity to get the offense on track against a struggling URI team. The Rams (1-23) are still looking for their first home win of the year, though like UConn they have played most of their games either on the road or at a neutral site.
McIntyre has been experimenting with the batting order in recent games and trying to get a feel for a steady line-up entering conference play. The fixture against URI presents an opportunity to fine tune the order before a crucial weekend series against Memphis.
“I tell everybody not to get too comfortable with their spot in the batting order because it changes based on who’s hot, who’s cold, sometimes the combinations in the order that seem to be working for us,” McIntyre said.
The top of the order has some level of consistency, but beyond the first four hitters, the order has changed from series to series. The same can be said of the pitching staff. McIntyre has said that the team will pitch by committee, with no one guaranteed the starting job.
“We’ll see how the next two days of practice go,” McIntyre said. “We’re gonna probably intersquad scrimmage and then make the determinations from there.”
Even though the official decision on the starter has not been made, UConn has three options, all of whom have been throwing well in recent games. Freshman Chelsea Eckert (3-8) is coming off of a win against USF in the second game of Friday’s double-header and a well-pitched loss in the first game, allowing just three runs in a complete game. Senior Lauren Duggan (6-9) leads the team in wins, and sophomore Kayla Doty (2-5) carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning in her last start, striking out seven.
The Huskies take the field at 4 p.m. at the URI Softball Complex.