TAMPA – Life without Sara Nevins for the USF Softball program got underway this past weekend. Ken Eriksen’s team played five games against Hampton, Illinois State, Jacksonville, Michigan and Florida. The Bulls went 3-2, but a lot was left to be desired.
The weekend got off to a strong start on Thursday night, with the Bulls taking down Hampton 7-5. Lee Ann Spivey and Julie Weber each hit three-run homers in route to the victory.
Karla Claudio got the start, tossing the first two frames, but it was Sam Greiner who threw the middle four innings and got the win. Greiner allowed just one unearned run and no hits.
The highlight of opening weekend for USF came on Friday. Erica Nunn, making her first start of the season, threw her first career no-hitter against Illinois State in a 7-0 Bulls win.
Nunn struck out 10 hitters and walked four. Spivey, Claudio and freshman Lauren Evans finished the game 2-for-3. Evans belted her first career big fly for her first two RBI’s of the season.
In game one of a doubleheader on Saturday, the Bulls took on the No. 8 Michigan Wolverines in front of a sold-out crowd of 1,842. USF committed four errors in the game and it turned out to cost them the game, eventually falling 4-3. Only two of Michigan’s runs were earned.
Greiner took the loss for USF, while Sara Driesenga picked up the win for the Maize and Blue.
The Bulls rebounded nicely in game two against the Jacksonville Dolphins in a powerful way. USF run-ruled Jacksonville 9-1 in five innings.
Susan Wysocki earned the win in the circle, shutting the Dolphins down over her four innings of work. Wysocki allowed just two hits and struck out two without issuing a walk.
USF took advantage of the seven errors Jacksonville committed in a six-run second inning. Kristen Wykoff and Ronnie Gajownick each scored a pair of runs in the game.
In the final game of the opening slate, USF closed out the weekend against the defending national champion and top ranked Florida Gators in front of the second consecutive sold out crowd at the USF Softball Stadium.
The Bulls and Gators were scoreless until the third inning until Florida knocked in its first run off Greiner after a sac-fly. In the bottom half of the frame, USF erupted for four runs against Gator starter Delanie Gourley. The big hit in the inning came with two outs off the bat of Gajownik.
The senior infielder knocked home two runs with a single into center field to put the Bulls up 4-1. Florida answered with a run of their own in the fourth to cut the lead in half.
The score remained 4-2 until the top of the seventh. The Bulls were three outs away from taking down the defending champs and the top team in the country. It would've been a monumental win for a team trying to fill the void of one of the best pitchers in the history of NCAA softball, Sara Nevins.
Claudio was fantastic in relief of Greiner, tossing four innings. She held the Gators off the scoreboard until the seventh.
The flood gates opened, and Florida proved why they opened the season ranked No. 1. Kirsti Meritt delivered the knockout blow of the eight run seventh, putting the Gators up 10-4. USF scratched across one run in the bottom of the seventh, but that was all they could get.
The Bulls hit the field again on Friday for another weekend of games against St. Johns, Detroit, Tennessee, Fordham and FGCU.