Eriksen says USF softball hasn't peaked yet
TAMPA - Scary thought: Coach Ken Eriksen said his University of South Florida softball team still hasn't put everything together. Despite a 44-8 record and a 16-3 mark in the Big East. Despite its midseason 19-game winning streak. Despite a No. 16 ranking in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll."We've had a great season, don't get me wrong,'' Eriksen said. "But as far as everything clicking at the same time, no. So I believe we have a chance to play our best ball at the most important time of the year.'' The Bulls finish their regular season with a weekend series at Syracuse (38-12, 15-4) before next week's Big East tournament at South Bend, Ind. That's where the Bulls could get another shot at league pacesetter Louisville (47-2, 17-2), which leads the nation in victories. USF will learn its NCAA Regional assignment on May 13. Eriksen said he's optimistic USF can host that event for the first time on its campus. "We have the facilities for it now,'' Eriksen said of USF's second-year stadium. "Florida has hosted a bunch of times. So has Florida State. Why not somebody new? We're ready. I think we're qualified.'' The Bulls have arguably the nation's best pitching staff with sophomore Sara Nevins (25-4, 0.99 ERA), freshman Sam Greiner (10-4, 1.47) and junior Lindsey Richardson (9-0, 1.21). The defense has been generally stellar. The offense, inconsistent at times, is led by sophomore shortstop Kourtney Salvarola (.420), sophomore first baseman Stephanie Medina (.380) and senior center fielder Janine Richardson (.346). "That's just how good our team is, when one person is down, the other picks it up,'' said USF senior third baseman Jessica Mouse, a Chamberlain High product who played at LSU but transferred back home to attend graduate school and compete in her final season with the Bulls. Women's basketball awards given Coach Jose Fernandez's Bulls, who finished 19-16 and reached the WNIT's third round, held the program's awards banquet on Sunday night. Most Valuable Player honors went to Jasmine Wynne (offense) and Sasha Bernard (defense). Other award winners were: Andrea Smith (Gold Bull), Andrell Smith (Comeback Player of the Year), Tiffany Conner (Queen of the Boards), Inga Orekhova (Sharp Shooter), Kaneisha Saunders (Miss Dish) and Aleshia Flowers (Academic Achievement). Bulls bits Coach Lelo Prado's baseball team (29-16, 12-6 Big East), in a three-way tie for second place with Louisville and Connecticut, can reclaim the league lead if it sweeps this weekend three-game series at St. John's (29-16, 14-4). … After hitting three home runs last week, including two in a road upset against No. 2-ranked Florida, Bulls catcher Andrew Longley was named to the Big East's weekly honor roll. … The baseball team signed Winter Haven High's Levi Borders, son of 1992 World Series MVP Pat Borders. The younger Borders took his father's lead and played catcher this season, but should also play infield positions at USF. Also a quarterback at Winter Haven, he will try out for USF's football team in the fall. … USF hosts the three-day Big East Outdoor Track and Field Championships beginning Friday. … USF men's golf was ninth in this week's Big East Championships, won by Notre Dame, at Reunion Resort and Golf Club.