#23 USF Softball opened the weekend hosting one of the toughest tournaments in the country, with #3 Florida, #4 Michigan, & getting votes Wisconsin joined victims Bethune-Cookman and Illinois State for a five-game round robin of fun and excitement.
And then the rains came. The weather cost the Bulls two games, including good-for-the-RPI Wisconsin and good-for-the-win-column Illinois State. Those are games the Bulls for sure wanted to play, and their depth of pitching puts multi-game tournaments in their favor.
The Bulls opened the tournament with a 10-3 loss to the Gators, as the Bulls combined to post one of the great pitching scorelines you'll ever see in any bat-and-base sport:
7 IP, 5 H, 10 R, 8 ER, 11 BB, 4 K, 5 hit batsmen. Where's the Jayson Stark of softball for that one?
It also led to the early leader for Ken Eriksen Quote of The Year:
The seven-run fourth for the Gators was brutal to watch (and not just because of the cold, windy weather), as I'm not sure a ball left the infield. Everything found a hole, every batter found a way on, and everything couldn't have gone worse.
The highlight though was a treat: a monster home run for freshman outfielder Ta'Coia Williams in her first collegiate at bat. It looked like it landed somewhere around Perkins on Fowler and 50th, and it was a legit "WHOA!" moment. Bulls and Team USA Head Coach Ken Eriksen wasn't afraid to heap on the praise:
Eriksen on freshman Ta’coia Williams, who HR’ed in 1st AB: “Best hitting freshman I’ve seen in a long time. Probably since Mo Triner.” Wow.
Eriksen on freshman Ta’coia Williams, who HR’ed in 1st AB: “Best hitting freshman I’ve seen in a long time. Probably since Mo Triner.” Wow.— Collin Sherwin (@USFCollin) February 7, 2014
Mo Triner’s name is all over every USF record basically. Can’t think of much higher praise he could give.
Mo Triner’s name is all over every USF record basically. Can’t think of much higher praise he could give.— Collin Sherwin (@USFCollin) February 7, 2014
The second game against Bethune-Cookman was a 9-0 five inning run rule win. Erica Nunn went all Wes Ferrell by pitching a three-hit shutout while striking out six, and hitting a home run too. Kourtney Salvarola finished the job with a walk-off grand slam in the 5th that sent a very tired and cold crowd home happy.
After Friday was a washout, the Bulls returned Saturday against Michigan for what turned out to be a heartbreaking 3-2 loss. Full disclosure: we left after the top of the 4th to go to men's basketball, but at that point Sara Nevins had another weird pitching line: 4 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 111 pitches (!!). She loaded the bases twice but got out of it with K's both time, causing us to rename this situation a "Nevins." Sara tends to pitch in and out of trouble at times, and her opening weekend was a case study. Her finishing line of 6.1 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 8 BB, 10 K was pretty good for facing a top five team, but the Bulls just couldn't find the extra run needed.
USF is back in action this weekend at home with another tournament, highlighted by the game against #1 Tennessee on Saturday at 4pm. Pittsburgh, Binghamton, Wright State, and Illinois will also be participating in the round robin event.