Softball Goes 0–3 to UConn at Home


Brian Luppy/Villanovan Photography

The three losses to UConn ended Villanova’s 10 game winning streak.

Katie Lewis, Staff Writer

This weekend, Villanova’s softball team went 0–3 against Big East rival UConn at home. 

The series ends the Wildcats’ 10-game winning streak and puts the team at an 18–16 overall record and a 5–4 conference record. 

“They were three totally different games,” head coach Bridget Orchard said. “UConn is a good, well-coached team, and they made things happen and forced us to make mistakes that were contagious.” 

During the first game on Friday, March 31st, the Wildcats fell, 9–5, to the Huskies. 

Freshman Kat Gallant was the Villanova starter, and she struck out one but allowed eight hits and five earned runs against a persistent UConn offense. Relieving Gallant in the fourth inning, sophomore Kelsey White also struck out one and surrendered three earned runs in her 3.2 innings pitched. 

Bats were hot for both lineups in an eventful first inning, which included four total home runs. After the Huskies took an initial three-run lead, junior center fielder Tess Cites immediately sparked a Wildcat retaliation, launching the ball over the fence in her first swing. With senior third baseman Chloe Smith on base after a walk, senior catcher Ally Jones blasted another homer to tie the score at 3–3 leading into the second inning. 

The Wildcats continued to climb in the third, when Jones doubled, and a third Villanova home run came off the bat of graduate catcher Ryan Henry to reach 5–3. The lead did not last for long, as UConn tallied four runs and five hits the following inning, taking advantage of two Villanova errors. 

While the Wildcats struggled to bounce back with three scoreless innings, two UConn hits in the sixth and a seventh-inning home run, gave the Huskies the victory. 

“We gave up runs and were able to battle back, but we made some costly errors and baserunning mistakes,” Orchard said about Friday’s loss. 

Saturday, the Huskies defeated Villanova, 10–1, in five innings. 

Graduate student Peyton Schnackenberg pitched all five innings, striking out four while giving up 14 hits and just two walks. 

After a scoreless first inning, the Huskies clubbed seven hits in the second for a six-run lead. All three of Villanova’s total hits came from the second half of that inning, first with a swinging bunt from freshman shortstop Lilly St. Jean, then a single from senior first baseman Victoria Sebastian. Sophomore infielder Ava Franz singled to bring St. Jean home, marking the Wildcat’s first and only run of the game. 

After a scoreless third and fourth inning, UConn caused trouble for Schnackenberg again in the fifth, loading the bases to open the inning. Despite defensive efforts to hold back the Huskies with a force out and strikeout, a two-out grand slam put UConn up 10–1. 

After Villanova failed to generate the firepower to surmount UConn’s lead in the bottom of the fifth, the eight-run rule ended the game early. 

However, the Wildcats settled the waters in game three, holding the Huskies to a 1–0 victory. 

White returned to the circle to pitch the first five innings, striking out one and giving up five hits, one walk, and UConn’s only run of the game. Junior Caroline Pellicano closed, throwing two scoreless innings with two strikeouts. 

After the Huskies managed one run in the first inning, the Wildcats threatened in their half of the inning, but to no avail. After two walks and a single from senior outfielder Dani Dabroski loaded the bases on no outs, a UConn pitching change successfully thwarted major Villanova scoring opportunities. 

In the second, the Wildcats loaded the bases again after a pair of hit-by-pitches and a two-out walk, but a Jones fly-out ended the inning to keep the score at 1–0. 

Both teams struggled to bring runners home in a scoreless third and fourth inning. In the fifth, Franz saved the Wildcats from bases loaded with a double play to end the inning. 

The Wildcats received their final chance to tie the game in the seventh inning, after a Cites single, Dabroski bunt and wild pitch advanced both runners into scoring position. Cites broke for home after another wild pitch but was tagged out.  

Two walks put Villanova in a bases-loaded situation for a third time, until a UConn outfielder intercepted a two-out line drive by White to finish the game. 

“We had so many opportunities for key hits, and we just didn’t get that clutch hit that we needed,” Orchard said. 

While this series is behind them, the action did not stop for the Wildcats this week. Villanova played UPenn on Tuesday, April 4th at home, winning 8-0 in six innings.

The Wildcats will now return to conference play on Thursday, April 6th for another three-game series against Butler.  

The Bulldogs currently stand in first place in the Big East, just above UConn with an 8–1 conference record.

“I think they’re still feeling pretty confident, and they know that we can play better,” Orchard said. “These games coming up hopefully will get us back on track.”