In a tale of David vs. Goliath, Goliath prevailed but not after David put up a strong fight for six innings. USF was able to keep the game close after Yamato Fujita scored on an RBI single in the first inning, keeping Japan scoreless for five straight innings.
Sophomore Georgina Corrick was credited with a loss after pitching three innings, giving up three hits, one run, walking two and striking out two. The first pitching change occurred in the fourth inning, when Senior Nicole Doyle came in for two innings striking out one and giving up two hits.
Senior Cheyenne Eggens got her number called in the sixth, where she walked one, but got two Japanese players to ground out and one to pop out.
The seventh is when it got ugly.
Fujita scored once again for Team Japan, after another RBI single and a throwing error scored the two on base. Sugama came up to bat with Fujita on and hit a homer to left field to make it 4-0.
Ken Eriksen went to his bullpen to bring in freshman Brittany Hook, who proceeded to give up an absolute moon shot to the next batter, Naito. Hook continued to give up hit after hit, before Eriksen called in freshman Alivia Sinnott to clean up, in which she got out of the inning unscathed, but not after Japan piled on nine runs.
The bottom of the seventh provided a spark when freshman Dezarae Maldonado hit a two-run blast. USF was able to get two on before Jaycie Michael struck out looking to mercifully end the game.
All-in-all, the seventh was a disastrous inning, with nine runs, eight hits, and three errors, after USF was able to keep the world’s number two team humble for most of the night.
Japan’s starting pitcher Hamamura ended up facing 20 batters and only surrendered two hits, four strikeouts and walked none. Kana Nakano came in for relief, surrendering two runs, walking two, and striking out two. The Bulls’ bats were silent all night as Hamamura got nearly everyone to ground out to third where Sugama was making routine throws to Naito all game.
Eriksen definitely used this game to give his team some experience, as 18 players went to bat, and five came in to pitch, meaning all but two players were used.
Two bright spots for USF was junior AnaMarie Bruni making two spectacular catches in center field to keep Japan off the board during the fourth and fifth inning, and of course, freshman Dezarae Maldonado (who is 5’3 btw) hit her first collegiate home run.
USF (1-4) will travel to Tucson, Arizona this Friday to take on a bevy of opponents with Alabama, Arizona, UIC, Cal State Fullerton, and New Mexico taking part in the Hillenbrand Invitational. This is the first time since 2008 that USF softball will travel outside of the state of Florida for a non-conference game.