After a 10-day layoff, which coach Ken Eriksen said is the longest in the six years he’s been coach, the South Florida softball team will host Florida today in a doubleheader starting at 5 p.m.
The Bulls will face the Gators for the first time since they traveled to Gainesville for the University of Florida GRU Classic. The Bulls won the first game 5-3 and lost the second game 4-1.
“It was a great chance for us to heal up,” Eriksen said. “We definitely had a heck of a schedule to begin with.”The Bulls had a break in their schedule during the only time they have had an injury since the start of the season. Freshman pitcher Niki Trowell had flu symptoms, and freshman pitcher Katie Dugger had pain in her arm.
“You play a lot and you play as hard as we do, it’s bound to happen,” Eriksen said. “The break has really helped (Dugger) more than anybody else.”
The break came at a good time for the Bulls, after they dropped a doubleheader to Louisville on March 30 which they said was due partly to a lackluster attitude. Before that the Bulls won 12 of 13.
“(The break) gives them time to redirect the mentality and reflect on how not to play,” Eriksen said.
Also, the break added to USF’s Conference USA position in the standings because Houston lost two of three games. Overall the Bulls (11-12-1) are ranked sixth in the conference at 5-5, and the Cougars (9-10) are behind them with a conference record of 5-9. The top six teams in the conference qualify for the conference tournament.
The layoff allowed the Bulls to get more conditioning during practice.
“We’ve been practicing regularly, getting back to the weight room,” Eriksen said. “We got back to conditioning more consistently.”
The Gators will provide the Bulls with a prime team to compete against to get them back in the swing of things before they continue their conference schedule.
“Anytime you can face a quality team like that it gets you right back into it,” Eriksen said. “There’s no lack of intensity.”
Bryan Fazio covers softball and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org