The early season struggles are officially over.
Fresh off a defeat of No. 14 Iowa on Wednesday, the USF softball team won two of three games against defending Conference USA Tournament champion Southern Miss this past weekend at the USF Softball Complex.
The Bulls stretched their winning streak to 11 games Saturday in Game 1, dropped Game 2 of the doubleheader and recovered Sunday to beat the Golden Eagles 4-1. The Bulls have won 12 of their last 13 games and are inching toward a .500 record (19-21-1, 5-3 in C-USA).
?They?ve really come together. I don?t think we?ve had a team that?s as tight as this team is,? said USF coach Ken Eriksen. ?They?ve been through so much in the last year and a half, two years, but they?re really playing well.?
Corin Tassio put in her bid for C-USA Pitcher of the Week, going the distance in Games 1 and 3 and allowing three runs. She now has six consecutive victories and is the only Bulls pitcher with a winning record.
?She came into my office about three weeks ago and said, ?Coach, I?m ready to take the ball.? You?ve got to love it when a kid does that,? Eriksen said. ?She said, ?I?m ready, and I want to be a starting pitcher on this team. I?m ready to go.? And I said, ?Kid, that?s all I needed to hear.?
?She?s coming around, and she?s done a great job. She?s a bulldog. The kid?s just got a great attitude for the game.?
Tassio (8-5), a redshirt sophomore who transferred from Georgia last season and sat out the year, started the season shakily but said her comfort level has gone up with experience.
?I was coming off a whole year without being in a game,? Tassio said. ?I?m doing better just because I?m feeling more comfortable with my pitches.?
Tassio (8-5) got all the runs she would need in the fourth inning Sunday from RBI singles by Niki Trowell and Renee Oursler, scoring Holly Groves and Ginny Georgantas, respectively.
After an RBI single to center field by Carmela Liwag in the fifth, Georgantas made the score 4-0 in the bottom of the sixth with a solo home run over the left center-field wall, her second home run of the season and 12th of her career.
Including the Iowa game, Georgantas went 7-for-12 at the plate during the week, with five runs, four RBI and two stolen bases, and is a candidate for C-USA Hitter of the Week.
?We?re getting consistent with our hitting, so if our pitching holds us in there, we?ve got a great shot to win. Our defense is playing pretty good, too.?
The Golden Eagles (15-18, 6-3 in C-USA) threatened in the top of the seventh, scoring once and loading the bases with two out. But USM?s Melanie Hymel looked at two Tassio strikes and struck out swinging at an off-speed pitch on the outside corner.
?I think I?m most effective when I can challenge them with my off-speed and my rise-balls,? Tassio said. ?If I have them swinging at my change-ups and I have them guessing, then I think I?m in control.?
In Game 1, Tassio out-dueled the league preseason Pitcher of the Year, Felicia Gonzales, in a 6-2 Bulls victory. Gonzales (5-5) was roughed up for nine hits and five earned runs in six innings, with Tassio and Rachel Williams driving in two runs apiece.
Redshirt freshman pitcher Katie Dugger (2-6) started for the Bulls in Game 2 and was tagged with the loss, as USM won 4-0, ending the Bulls? winning streak at 11.
- Contact Khari Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org