The USF softball team left Tampa Bay for the first time all season to play a "weekend" series with the Villanova Wildcats last Wednesday and Thursday in Philadelphia. It took a lot of extra innings, but the Bulls left town with a sweep to extend their record to 27-11 and 5-1 in the Big East.
Wednesday's game was an easy one, as the Bulls cruised to an 8-2 win. Kourtney Salvarola, who hit three home runs in USF's previous game against Rutgers last Sunday, bashed two more off Villanova pitching to increase her Big East-leading total to 10 on the season. Salvarola had a two-run homer and then added a three-run bomb in the sixth to put the game away. Ashli Goff added two hits and scored twice, while Sara Nevins pitched a complete game with 10 strikeouts. Villanova helped the Bulls' cause with six errors.
Thursday's games were a different story. The first game was a marathon, with Villanova's Kate Poppe matching Nevins and Lindsey Richardson scoreless inning for scoreless inning. Finally in the 11th inning, USF pushed across a run on a sacrifice fly by Dani Wayt, and Nevins shut the door on a 1-0 win. The Bulls' two bosses held the Wildcats to one hit for the entire game and struck out a total of 15 hitters.
The second game also took extra innings. USF was hoping to get the game over with quickly to catch their plane back to Tampa, but as the scoreless innings piled up again, the Bulls moved the drop-dead time back twice to try and get the entire game in. Villanova threatened to push across the game-winning run a couple of times, notably in the 8th inning when they loaded the bases. But after creating her own jam, Nevins got out of it and kept the game 0-0. Then in the 9th inning, with two runners on, Salvarola hit yet another dramatic home run, a three-run shot that gave USF all the runs they would need. Nevins shut down the Wildcats in the 9th and the Bulls went home with a 3-0 win and a series sweep.
With 11 home runs on the season, Salvarola is already third on the list of most home runs in a season by a USF player, and only one away from tying for second. Holly Groves holds the school record with 18 homers in 2004. She's also second on the list with 12 in 2003.
The Bulls host St. John's on Wednesday for a midweek doubleheader before leaving for Pittsburgh to play a three-game series on Saturday and Sunday.