Ken Eriksen and the USF softball team opened the season with a pair of victories, taking care of Maine 8-1 and Florida Gulf Coast 4-2 in the opening day of the USF Tournament.
Freshman RHP Sam Greiner (1-0) looked great in her USF debut, not allowing a run and giving up only 3 hits while striking out 8 in six innings of work. The Bulls offense looked just as good against the Black Bears, jumping out to a 7-0 lead after two innings.
The Bulls were able to jump out to a big lead in the first with a nice two-out rally. Kourtney Salvarola and Kenshyra Jackson each had an RBI single, and LSU transfer Jessica Mouse made her presence felt on her USF debut with a two RBI double to make it 4-0 after one. After scoring three more in the 2nd and Laura Fountain's RBI single in the 4th to make it 8-0, it looked like the Bulls were going to run-rule the Black Bears. But then one of the weirdest moments in recent memory would confuse most of the fans in the stands and lead to Ken Erisken being ejected from the game.
Sophomore LHP Sara Nevins came into the game in the 5th inning to close it out, but there was something in her pre-pitch routine caused the umpiring crew to call three illegal pitches on her. Eriksen went to talk with the crew after Nevins' first illegal pitch, and was thrown out of the game shortly thereafter. Nevins appeared to end the inning twice after Maine made it 8-1, but on both occasions she was called for an illegal pitch and the inning was allowed to continue. All things considering, Nevins did a great job keeping her composure and getting out of the inning with giving up only one run.
In the nightcap with FGCU, Lindsey Richardson and Britney Pugh were locked in a pitchers duel until a big inning gave the Bulls an insurmountable lead. Gina Kafalas' RBI single gave the Bulls ahead in the bottom of the 5th, and a fielding error by FGCU loaded the bases with only one out. Janine Richardson's walk that forced in a run to make it 2-0, and Stephanie Medina's RBI bunt single made it 3-0 for the Bulls. Salvarola finished off the scoring with a sac fly to make it 4-0 after 5 innings.
Richardson pitched 4 1/3 inning of scoreless ball, and was taken out for Nevins (1-0), who was credited for the win in 2 2/3 innings of relief. FGCU tried to steal the game late after Emily Lanier's 2-run HR in the 7th, but Nevins was able to close the door for the victory.
SCHEDULING CHANGE: With a rainstorm ending play early on Friday, the USF-Illinois State game slated for today had to be pushed back to the 26th to accommodate the changes in the itinerary. For a full schedule, head on over to GoUSFBulls.com. The Bulls will take on Long Island today at 1:30 before playing Florida at 1:30 on Sunday.