Although USF softball's long winning streak came to an end in their weekend series against Rutgers, the Bulls still won two out of three and improved their record to 24-11 behind a flurry of home runs.
The fireworks began early on Saturday with an 11-3, five-inning win. USF tied its school record for home runs in a game for the third time this season. Kourtney Salvarola and Kenshyra Jackson each went deep, and Stephanie Medina added a pair of homers as the Bulls ambushed the Scarlet Knights and built an 11-0 lead after three innings. Sara Nevins pitched almost the entire game, giving up two earned runs and five hits while striking out seven. With an 11-3 lead, Sam Greiner came on to get the final out and make sure the game didn't go seven innings.
In the second game, USF's 17-game winning streak finally ended when Rutgers rallied in the seventh inning for a 3-2 comeback win. USF led 2-1 going into the seventh inning, but Rutgers got an RBI single from Alexis Durando and then won the game on an unearned run when Lee Ann Spivey made a throwing error. Lindsey Richardson pitched 4.2 strong innings, allowing just one run and three hits, but Nevins took the loss in relief. Not the first time Nevins has been the losing pitcher because of unearned runs.
In the third and final game on Sunday, Kourtney Salvarola became the first player in USF softball history to hit three home runs in a game as she single-handedly carried the Bulls to a 4-3 win in nine innings. She hit a two-run homer in the 3rd, a solo shot in the 5th to tie the game, and then added a walk-off blast in the bottom of the 9th to finish the hat trick. Richardson and Nevins went back and forth in the circle to keep USF in the game. Richardson only allowed one run and one hit in five innings while striking out nine. Nevins allowed a two-run shot to Alexis Durando, but she also struck out eight in four innings and broke Monica Triner's school record for most career strikeouts. At 648 K's and counting, and with a full year and a half left to add on to the record, Nevins has a chance to put this mark out of reach for a long, long time.
This was a great start for the Bulls as they began league play. The Bulls will next face Villanova on Wednesday at 3 PM and then will play a double header on Thursday at 11 AM and then at 1 PM (on the road).