Bulls move on to Big East softball final
The University of South Florida will play for its first Big East softball championship this afternoon after shutting down No. 9 Louisville in the conference tournament semifinals Friday.
The Bulls won 3-0 for the second consecutive day to advance to their first Big East championship game since 2008, a 4-1 loss to DePaul.
Louisville (46-11) entered the tournament as the No.?3 seed, despite its No. 9 national ranking.
After a difficult first trip through the lineup, where three Cardinals reached base, USF’s Sara Nevins dominated the Cardinals lineup in a complete-game three-hit shutout.
“The old adage is that good pitching stops good hitting,” USF coach Ken Eriksen said. “I would put (our) pitching staff up against any staff in the country.”
Between the third and seventh innings, Nevins retired 10 consecutive batters. She struck out four Cardinals.
After failing to get a hit in the first two innings, USF’s bats came to life in the third, when nine Bulls went to the plate. Ashli Goff led off with a single and moved to second base on Courtney Goff’s bunt. From there, four straight Bulls reached base — highlighted by Kenshyra Jackson’s two-run single with the bases loaded — and USF raced to a 3-0 lead.
“(Louisville’s Rachel Le Coq) was actually a great pitcher,” Jackson said. “She did a lot of spins and pitched outside, so all you have to do in that situation is make contact with the ball, and that’s what I did.”
In each of the past two seasons, USF lost its opening game of the Big East Tournament. Last year, the Bulls were shut out by DePaul before starting a postseason run that led to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.
“It was weird losing (in the opening round of the Big East Tournament) last year and then going to the World Series,” Nevins said. “This year, we’re at least proving that we can go step by step.”