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The UConn Fast Break - 5/15/2023
Great highs and great lows as postseason play has begun in some sports.
Welcome to this week’s Fast Break, and thank you for being a subscriber. You better go to a UConn softball game next year, or else.
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Softball, Lacrosse seasons come to an end
On Friday, UConn women’s lacrosse traveled up to Boston for the first round of the NCAA Tournament, falling to Penn 13-8. The Huskies put up a good fight but end the year in almost identical fashion as the last two years: losing to Denver in the Big East Tournament championship before exiting in the first round of the NCAAs.
The match started with the Quakers netting three goals in the first three minutes to rapidly take a 3-0 lead. Lia Laprise got the Huskies on the board and also tied it up with her second goal a few minutes later to make it 3-3 after the first period. The two teams traded goals in a second period that ended with Penn up 6-5.
After halftime, Penn continued to dominate and UConn just couldn’t seem to keep up. The Quakers had a two-goal lead early in the third period and this time they held on. The Huskies ended their season with a 12-7 record.
Softball had a bit more optimism going into the weekend, as the No. 1 seed and host of the Big East Tournament.
The Huskies began with a matchup against St. John’s on Thursday afternoon, advancing after a 3-2 victory. Both teams scored two runs in the first and UConn got the go-ahead run in the second before five scoreless innings to close it out. Hope Jenkins was the starter on the mound, striking out six hitters in three innings to earn the win, while junior SS Jana Sanden went 2-3 at the plate with an RBI.
Next up was Seton Hall. The lead changed three times in the first three innings before a grand slam made it 5-2 Seton Hall. The Huskies managed to claw back into the game with two runs in the fifth, but it wasn’t enough, setting up an elimination game against Villanova.
Villanova dominated offensively early on, scoring two unanswered runs in the first and following it up with another two in the third to take a 4-0 lead. In the sixth inning, with bases loaded, Rosie Garcia closed the gap with a two-run single and Taylor Zatyk brought in another run with a sac fly to left field, cutting the lead down to one. But they couldn’t get anything going in the seventh and that’s all she wrote.
UConn ended its season with a 34-15 overall record and its second consecutive season with at least 30 wins. The program last accomplished that feat in 2001.
3 Huskies invited to NBA Combine – The usual suspects will show off their stuff in Chicago this week.
Jordan Hawkins’ Mock Drafts – A breakdown of where Hawkins is predicted to land.
Aaliyah Edwards has room for improvement ($) – What the senior big needs to do to reach the next level.
UConn WBB Weekly – Your go-to place for all recent news surrounding the Huskies during the off-season.
Season to kick off Aug. 31 – UConn’s season opener was moved to Thursday.
Two transfers added – A WR from Delaware and a TE from TCU.
Butler Beaten – A 13th-inning walk-off.
Hook C Baseball Newsletter – All the latest surrounding UConn’s baseball team.
State of the Program($) – The latest updates on UConn’s men’s hockey team.
New goalkeeper – UConn adds Ethan Haider from Clarkson.
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Luke Broadhurst went yard to walk off with a series win on Saturday. All of the afternoon’s highlights can be seen on Instagram.
Jim Calhoun’s 81st birthday was on Wednesday, while Sunday was the 37th anniversary of his hiring as UConn’s men’s basketball coach in 1986.
Calhoun, who had just brought Northeastern to five NCAA Tournaments in six years, had an NIT champion by his second year and before his first recruiting class could graduate, the Huskies were a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament and making the Elite Eight.
All told, the Braintree, Massachusetts native brought three national championships to Storrs and 625 wins in 868 games with 18 NCAA Tournament bids.
UConn, Great Pic
Ian Bethune’s best from a weekend that included softball and baseball.
UConn baseball likely lost its opportunity to host a Regional after Sunday’s loss to Butler. But that’s okay.
The loss pushed the Huskies from No. 16 to No. 25 in the RPI and with three Quad 3 and one Quad 4 regular season games left plus the Big East Tournament, it’s unlikely UConn will be able to get its RPI back into the hosting discussion.
It’s incredibly difficult for a Northeast program to earn a 1-seed in a Regional. UConn in 2018 is the only team in the 64-team era (since 1999) to truly contend for a spot since Rutgers earned a 1-seed in 2000. The several weeks of road games to begin the year, frequent five-game weeks once the weather heats up to get to the 56 allotted contests, and a regional schedule filled with RPI land mines present a comprehensive test of a team’s mettle, depth, and consistency.
A Northeast school has to be nearly perfect and get some luck to play at home in the NCAA Tournament.
After a Super Regional appearance in 2022, Jim Penders had to replace his entire starting rotation, which was filled with veterans that brought the Huskies one win away from Omaha for the first time since 1979. It was a tough year to do so, as scoring is up and fewer than 50 programs have a team ERA under 4.50. The Huskies’ team ERA is in the top 75 in the country and stands at 4.99.
UConn is fighting an uphill battle and while Elliot Ballpark is unlikely to host June baseball, the Huskies are still well on their way to being in a Regional for the fifth straight time and in six out of the last seven tournaments. That is unmatched among its geographic peers and is still something to celebrate.
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