UF eliminates Bulls in softball regionals
Without much help from the offense, the University of South Florida softball team saw its season end in the Regional round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday with a 2-0 loss to No. 2 national seed Florida.
After being overpowered by UF Saturday in an 11-1 run-rule blowout, the Bulls hung tough with the Gators on Sunday, but couldn't muster the runs needed to extend their season, failing to force a decisive second game.
Bulls ace Sara Nevins and Lindsey Richardson combined to one-hit the powerful Gators, but a poor fourth inning from Nevins doomed the Bulls.
Florida sent seven hitters to the plate in the fourth, with Nevins issuing four walks (one intentional) and hitting two other batters, allowing UF to score two runs without a hit. Nevins eventually got out of the inning with a fly ball to center field, stranding three Gators on the bases.
But the two-run cushion was more than enough for Florida's Hannah Rogers, who pitched a three-hit shutout, striking out five.
"I know the other team scored more than we did," USF coach Ken Eriksen said. "We got beat today. The other team was better than we were today. ... We broke a little bit with the control situation. You can't (allow) walks, we know that. We gave them some free passes. ... Their hitters did their job.
"We didn't do as best as we could have done."
In four games at the Gainesville Regional, USF (45-16) scored four total runs in 29 innings, fewer than one run per regulation game of seven innings.
"Whether we didn't give up any runs or not, I'm not sure Hannah was going to give up any runs, either," Eriksen said. "It's about great pitching and timely hitting and we did not have the timely hitting whatsoever this weekend."
As a team, USF batted .172 (16-for-93) with only one RBI in the four games.
Florida (55-7) advances to host a Super Regionals against either unseeded Alabama-Birmingham or UCLA and will look for a fifth trip to the Women's College World Series in six seasons.
"This is a huge accomplishment," Florida coach Tim Walton said. "This will go down as one of the best jobs the team has done with so many question marks coming into the season and so many new starters. This is one of the most gratifying feelings that I've had in a long time."
The loss brought an end to the extraordinary careers of Richardson - fourth all-time on USF's career strikeout list - and third baseman Kenshyra Jackson, a two-year starter after transferring from Polk State. The Bulls will also lose Stormi Grzybek and Stephanie Juergens, reserves primarily used as a pinch hitter and runner, respectively.
"I'll remember everything," Richardson said of her USF career coming to a close. "The girls and the coaches for sure though. They've been great."