Normally it’s pitching and defense that carries USF softball through. But this weekend at the USF Wilson-DeMarini Tournament on campus, the offense came to the rescue. The Bulls fell behind against Illinois State, Delaware, and #6 Michigan, then rallied to beat all three.
In the season opener, USF fell behind 4-1 after 5 1⁄2 innings against the Redbirds before starting their rally. The Bulls loaded the bases with two outs, and then Mia Fung and Aston Donovan each singled to bring in runs. In the bottom of the seventh, Lauren Evans got a walk with one out, and then freshman Bethaney Keen won it with a walk-off home run.
Friday night, USF and Delaware battled back and forth. The Blue Hens took a 4-3 lead in the sixth inning and threatened to add to it when they loaded the bases with no outs. On came pitcher Hannah Parker, who got out of the jam with a popup and two strikeouts. In the bottom of the inning, Parker and Kristen Wyckoff both got on and scored when Fung drove a double down the left-field line. Fung later scored on an RBI groundout by Juli Weber, giving USF a 6-4 victory.
Saturday’s comeback against the Wolverines (who hammered USF 11-2 last year) was the most impressive. The Bulls went down 3-0 early on, then climbed out of the hole. Juli Weber had a two-run, inside-the-park home run to cut the Michigan lead to 3-2. Michigan added a run in the fifth, but USF rallied with four runs in the bottom of the sixth to turn the game around. Lauren Evans singled, then Kassie Moeller hit her first career home run to tie the game. After that, Wyckoff singled and stole second. Fung walked, Donovan singled, and Weber hit a sharp grounder to third that bounced through Lindsay Montemarano’s legs. Wyckoff and Fung scored to give USF another 6-4 win.
The Bulls could not complete the weekend sweep on Sunday as fourth-ranked Florida did what they do, 8-0. It was the only game in the tournament where USF’s pitching truly struggled. Of the 12 runs they gave up in the first three games, only three of them were earned. The Bulls committed five errors in those games, all of which were costly.
Overall this was a successful weekend. Last year the Bulls stumbled badly in this tournament and won only one out of five games. This year they come out 3-1 and they claimed their first win over a top-10 opponent since they beat Florida on May 20, 2012, to advance to the NCAA Super Regional.
USF’s next game is Thursday against Wisconsin at the USF Softball Stadium. They then head over to Clearwater for the Michele Smith Tournament, with games against Binghamton, James Madison, Hofstra (juuuust a little bit of history with them), and Oklahoma State.