USF softball extends winning streak to 11; Prepares for USF-City of Clearwater Spring Invitational

USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls ran their winning streak to 11 games with three wins during the week, giving the team momentum heading into the weekend tournament that will take place on campus Friday and in Clearwater on Saturday.

The USF softball team kept the momentum going during the week as they rolled their winning streak to 11 straight with wins over Quinnipiac, Maine, and Boston University. The Bulls now sits at 17-10 on the year entering the weekend.

In the first game on Tuesday, the Bulls found themselves down early after the first inning after Erica Nunn surrendered a grand slam to start the night. However, USF responded and won the game 6 to 4. The Bulls answered back in the first with a home run from Stephanie Medina, who finished the night 2 for 3 with 2 runs scored, the HR, and 2 RBIs. USF opened it up in the 3rd inning with a 3-run home run from Kourtney Salvarola that allowed the Bulls to take the lead and not look back. Salvarola finished the night 1 for 3 with that 3-run home run, Ashli Goff went 1 for 2 with 2 runs scored. Nunn worked just 2 innings, allowing 4 hits, 4 runs, and striking out 2 batters. Sam Greiner came in after her, working 2 innings and striking out a batter. Sara Nevins closed the door, working the last 3 innings, allowing a single hit and fanning 5.

The Bulls continued their hot hitting, winning their 10th straight the same night over Maine, 11 to 0 in 5 innings. The Bulls started the game with a first inning grand slam from Kourtney Salvarola and it didn't stop there. USF recorded 4 home runs in the game, two-run home runs from Kenshyra Jackson (continues to heat up) and Lee Ann Spivey, and a 3-run blast from Sam Greiner. Lindsey Richardson was in boss mode, throwing a no hitter in the 5 innings she worked, walking just one batter and striking out 10 as USF ran their record to 16-10.

On Wednesday night, the Bulls and Boston University battled in a pitchers' duel that saw Sara Nevins prevail as USF won 1 to 0, running their streak to 11 games in a row (17-10). The lone run of the game came from an RBI double from Lee Ann Spivey that brought Ilaura Reeves home. That was all the run support Nevins would need as she worked 6.2 innings, allowing two hits, a walk, and struck out 8 batters (Richardson struck out the last batter for the save). Overall, it was a solid week of work for the ladies who are now hitting their stride and will hopefully propel them into the weekend and the USF-City of Clearwater Spring Invitational

The Bulls will play four games in two days, starting today with two games at home with Liberty at 2:15 PM and then an afternoon game against Iowa State.

Liberty enters the weekend at 8-9 (face Iowa State before USF). They are led by junior infielder Sammi Shivock who is batting .396 with 2 home runs, 6 doubles, and has driven in 14 RBIs. Sophomore Amber Donovan is batting .385 with 9 RBIs and junior outfielder Katie Zavodny is batting .383 and leads the team with 18 steals. In the circle for Liberty is freshman pitcher Amber Jo Brittingham who is 3-3 (3.85 ERA) on the season with 52.1 innings of work so far where she has allowed 61 hits, 26 walks and has struck out 28 batters (watch for sophomore Chandler Ball who is 3-3 with a 4.38 ERA to get a chance as well). USF should prevail in this game. The offense is clicking right now with the hot bats of Medina and Jackson and if Nevins and staff can continue their dominance, the Bulls should start the weekend with a win.

In the second game, USF will face Iowa State who enters the weekend at 10-10. The Cyclones are led by senior infielder Erica MIller who is batting .344 with 2 home runs and 21 RBIs on the season. The big power bat in their lineup comes from senior Tori Torrescano who is batting .325 with 6 home runs and 17 RBIs. She is also the workhorse of the rotation, with a 4-3 record (4.39 ERA). She has pitched 59 innings, allowing 77 hits, 17 walks, and has struck out 27 batters. She has allowed opponents to hit .322 against her with 8 home runs and 13 doubles surrendered, so Iowa State may turn to junior Taylor Smith who is 4-2 on the year to take the circle and let Torrescano's bat sit in the middle of the order. Smith has pitched 37 innings so far, allowing 43 hits, 14 walks, and has struck out 12 batters (pitches more to contact). The real challenge for the Bulls in this game is handling the bat of Torrescano and keeping them off base. The USF hitting should be able to do plenty of damage against Taylor or Torrescano if she steps in.

On Saturday, USF will travel to Clearwater (Eddie C. Moore Complex) to face LIU at 4 PM and then Rhode Island at 6:15 PM.

LIU enters the tournament with a 4-20 record. Junior shortstop/second baseman Lauren Morizi leads the team with a .353 batting average, 9 RBIs, and 6 doubles. Senior first baseman Emily Kakuska is batting .333 and has driven in 11 runs on the year. In the circle is junior Cassie Vondrak who is 2-11 (5.78 ERA) on the year. She has pitched a total of 77 innings, allowing 115 hits, 32 walks and has struck out 28 batters. She has allowed 10 home runs, 17 doubles and opponents are hitting .358 against her on the year, something the USF offense should take advantage of in this game. Sophomore pitcher Nicole Archer, 2-3 (4.24) ERA made take the circle instead, but she has allowed 49 hits in 38 innings of work this season.

In the final game, USF faces Rhode Island, who entered the tournament with a 2-8 record. RIU is led by senior shortstop Courtney Prendergast who is batting .312 with a home run and 3 RBIs. Junior Jocelyn Mattison has a home run and junior catcher/outfielder Stacey Fox is batting .312 and leads the team with 3 steals. In the circle is junior Sam Bedore who is 2-2 on the year (2.33 ERA) and has pitched 39 innings, allowing 30 hits, 14 walks and has struck out 34 batters.

So what does the tournament have in store for USF? For one, it gives the Bulls a great chance to extend their winning streak. The opponents are a combined 24-47 entering the tournament, giving the Bulls a great chance to take advantage. If the pitching can continue its domination and the recent heat up on offense carries over to the weekend, the Bulls will be in great position to get a few more wins before the start of conference play next weekend.

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