After lengthy travel delays trying to return from Florida early in the week and having a home opener postponed a day, it has been nearly a week since the Huskies played last.

The wait proved worth it for USM as the Huskies continued its hot start Thursday with a sweep of Bates in doubleheader action. USM (14-1) beat the Bobcats (0-12) 13-5 in the first game and completed the day with a 9-1 victory.

“It was our home opener and we’ve had some construction done to the field,” USM coach Sarah Jamo said. “So there was a little bit of pride to be able to be home, and it was one of the nicest day that we’ve had this spring.”

USM went 9-3 in Florida, winning seven of its first eight games. The Huskies spent the night at the John F. Kennedy International Airport last Sunday while waiting for connecting flights home during the snowstorm. The home opener was pushed back a day because of wet field conditions. Still, the Huskies continued their success with a pair of strong performances against Bates.

“It’s been awesome,” senior shortstop Mary Caron said. “Everyone has been really positive and together. I think the team is gelling really well. Everyone is buying in and ready to play and go far this year.”

Caron, a former St. Dom’s standout and now a team captain for USM, had three hits and drove in a run in the first game. She added two hits and an RBI in the second game. Caron was named the Little East Conference Player of the Week and is already on pace for another outstanding season.

“I’m just building on last year and looking to improve every day in every aspect of the game,” Caron said.

Another St. Dom’s alum had a good day for the Huskies. Senior  first baseman Kat McKay had a hit and drove in a pair in the first game. That included a two-run homer off the scoreboard in left. That blast came off former Poland hurler Kylie Martin, who pitched for McKay the last few seasons with the Knights.

“It was a little strange,” McKay said about facing her former player. “I tried to treat her like any other pitcher. Kylie’s grown a lot in the past year. So it wasn’t like I knew what was coming.”

USM jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead in the first game with two runs in the first and four in the second. Courtney Davis tripled in a pair and Caron and Samantha Crossman singled in runs.

Bates rallied in the third with three runs. Paige Ahlholm had a two-run double. Then Emma Schiller and Karen Lockhart doubled in runs in the fourth to get the Bobcats within 6-5. Katelyn Tucker came on in relief of Sammi Goode and shutdown Bates the rest of the way, allowing just one hit in two-plus innings.

“It’s been different kids at different times,” Jamo said. “It’s been a full team effort. (Tucker) came in and really held them and allowed our offense to go into attack-mode. Amber (Kelly) did the same in the second game. She really just kept them flat.”

Bates broke the first game open with six runs in the fifth. Jen Lynch had a three-run double. After Morgan Scavetta singled in a run, McKay put the exclamation point on the inning with her homer to make it 12-5.

“She was throwing me high all day,” McKay said. “She finally gave me something out over the plate that I could extend on. It happened to be that pitch, and I got my hands on it.”

It was a unique experience for Martin to face-off against her former high school coach. The freshman Martin struck out McKay in a previous at-bat. Martin (0-5) settled for the loss.

“It was a bit strange just because I’d never predicted that I’d be pitching to my high school coach,” Martin said. “I just had to keep in mind that she’s just another player and I’m a player, too.”

In the second game, USM slowly built the lead with two runs in the first and second inning and then three in the third for a 7-1 lead. 

Davis and Crossman drove in runs in the first inning and then Caron singled in a run in the second. Another run scored on an error.

“Mary is such a leader for us on the field and off the field,” Jamo said. “She’s our captain. She hits in the big spots, and she’s our best defensive player, too.”

After Bates got a run on a Madison Fox RBI, Scavetta and Lynch each scored on a wild pitch and Davis singled in a run. In the fourth, Lynch and Lux doubled in runs to make it 9-1.

Kelly got the win in the second game, allowing just three hits and one run.

“Everybody’s really contributing,” said McKay. “It’s been a team effort. It hasn’t been just one person through the 14 games. There’s always someone else that shines.”

Bates went 0-10 during its Florida trip but lost five of those game by four runs or less. The Bobcats were solid against the Huskies but are still quite young with nine underclassmen on the roster.

“It’s definitely a learning experience starting at the college level as a freshman,” Martin said. “We are making gains everyday and trying to get the kinks out. The team is awesome. We’ve made considerable progress. I love them so much. They’re so supportive and they’re all great athletes. We’re just trying to string some things together that will help us win.”

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