This week the USF softball team hosts the USF 4 Team Tournament in Tampa. The Bulls went 3-1 in the season-opening DeMarini Tournament last weekend, getting a big win over Michigan but finishing with a disappointing loss to FAU on Sunday. More tough competition awaits USF this weekend, starting with NC State on Friday afternoon.
The Wolfpack are 4-1, with sophomore RHP Emily Weiman picking up all four wins. She's already thrown 26 innings with 28 strikeouts and only 17 hits allowed. On offense, junior third baseman/shortstop Chelsea Tate (.500, a home run and three RBI), freshman first baseman Hanna Sommer (.400, two homers), and senior outfielder Bethaney Wells (four RBI) lead the way for NC State.
The second game of the day comes against Coastal Carolina at 6:30. The Chanticleers enter the weekend at 2-3 and are led by senior second baseman/outfielder Jazmin Daigle, hitting .375 with a homer and four runs batted in, and freshman outfielder Bri Chiusaro, hitting .368. In the circle, sophomore Kiana Quolas is 1-1 with 11 hits, 17 strikeouts, and only one walk allowed in 14.1 innings. Junior Ashley Bagwell has Coastal Carolina's other win, allowing 11 hits and eight walks with nine strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings. USF should have the upper hand in this game if the offense can get after Bagwell and Quolas, who tend to allow a lot of hits and walks.
The tournament portion of the weekend starts on Saturday when the Bulls on SEC power Tennessee at 1:15. The Lady Volunteers are 5-0, ranked fourth in the country, and come in smoking hot on offense after cleaning up in Utah last weekend. Tennessee has six batters hitting .500 or better. Sophomore Hannah Akanine hit .778 last weekend with a home run and five RBI, while sophomore infielder/pitcher Cheyenne Tarango is batting .636 with two homers and six RBI, plus nine innings pitched and eight strikeouts. Their ace pitcher is junior right-hander Ellen Renfroe, who has a 2-0 record and has given up only seven hits and two walks in 17 innings pitched, with 14 strikeouts. (Ellen's sister Ivy is another pitcher, and a third Renfroe sister, Anna, is a freshman infielder.)
Tennessee is the biggest challenge of the weekend and one of the best teams USF will play all season. Expect Sara Nevins (boss) to get the ball and try to keep the powerful Lady Vols offense on the bench.
If USF wins against Tennessee on Saturday, they will face one of the other two teams in the next round of the tournament. If they then beat either NC State or Coastal Carolina later on Saturday, they will play in the championship game on Sunday afternoon at 12:45pm.