Softball slips past UConn

Matthew Clark

By Matthew Clark

Assistant Sports Editor

Bottom of the fifth – Wildcats down 1-0 – runner on second. UConn called for Jessica Gurney, the winning pitcher in game one to relieve Michelle Caouette on the mound. The Wildcats were on an 18-and-one-third inning scoreless streak and looking at their third straight loss.

Senior Kristen Strait, who had been hitless so far in the series, stepped up to the plate. On a low hanging pitch, Strait nailed her third home run of the season off the scoreboard to give Villanova the 2-1 gave two victory.

“When I went up to the plate, I just knew I was going to get a hit,” said Strait. “But I sure wasn’t thinking I was going to get a home run.”

Strait, who is second on the team with a .444 slugging percentage, gave the Wildcats a much needed win against Big East rival Connecticut. This was just the ‘Cats third win against the Huskies in the past 32 meetings. The win also lifted the team’s conference record to 9-3 with 19 points, to keep them ahead of the undefeated Notre Dame, which has 16 points.

The Wildcats had a chance to score earlier in the game. After UConn took the 1-0 lead in the fourth, ‘Nova found itself in a situation it had experienced before. Much like against Rutgers, what seemed to be a sacrifice fly turned into a Wildcat blunder for an out.

In the bottom of the fourth, Allie Wisniewski hit what appeared to be a game tying sacrifice fly, but Krissy Yauch was called out for leaving third base early, ending the inning.

After Straits’ fifth inning imitation of Barry Bonds, starting pitcher Kristen Haynes tightened up to capture her seventh win of the season. Haynes allowed just one run on five hits, walking only two and striking out four.

UConn (19-18; 3-7) took game one from ‘Nova in a 1-0 pitching-dual victory. The Wildcats managed just six hits against Gurney who struck out 10 and allowed no runs to cross the plate. Shannon Williams, who is holding opponents to just .188 this season, was on fire as well. Williams allowed just seven hits and one walk in her 15th complete game of the season. Her record dropped to 14-9, however, after giving up a two out RBI single in the sixth.

Villanova swept LaSalle at home on Tuesday, 8-0 and 8-1 respectively. Kari Koller went 5 for 6 in the series with two home runs and Tiffany Ross earned her first save of the season On Wednesday, ‘Nova also swept Delaware 1-0 and 3-0 respectively. Williams and Haynes each pitched a complete game shut-out. Cassandra Koenig went 2 for 2 with the game winning RBI in game one and Flier went 3 for 4 in game two.

The Wildcats (25-16; 9-3) return to the diamond on Saturday at noon, in a Big East doubleheader showdown against Notre Dame (34-13; 8-0). The series is the fifth of a seven-doubleheader home stand.