Thirty innings, zero runs.
Those were the numbers this weekend as the South Florida softball team was swept by UAB (30-15, 10-5) 2-0, 4-0 and 8-0 to extend its losing streak to seven games. The Bulls haven’t won a game since March 24.
“There is no way that we should be shut out by the UAB pitching staff,” coach Ken Eriksen said.
The Bulls (19-28-1, 5-8), who had pitching troubles at the beginning of the season, allowed 14 runs, seven of which were earned. Niki Trowell had six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings in the second game, and Katie Dugger threw five strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings work on Sunday. Now the troubles have shifted to offense and team focus.
“We need a lot more focus on what we are doing,” shortstop Shelly Riker said. “We proved that when we want something all we have to do is put our minds to it and go get it. I think that we need to come together as a group and play as a team more and be enthusiastic about what we do.”
USF is only one game ahead of Houston for the final spot in the Conference USA tournament, which will be hosted by USF.
The Bulls have another task besides getting into the conference tournament – they have to compete for their spots on the team. The Bulls are now operating in what Eriksen calls a tryout basis.
“The only thing that I can say at this point is that our team is not only playing for the conference tournament that we host, but our team is also playing to maintain their positions on this team,” Eriksen said.
“We’re not going to be able to play good softball in the future with the type of play that we are getting right now from certain individuals and they know that they are on a tryout basis to keep their positions on the team,” Eriksen said.
The Bulls have to earn their positions and prove to the coaching staff that they can perform at the level needed to win on a Division I softball team.
“It’s not about you, it’s about us. You have to prove to me that you belong with the us,” Eriksen said. “Because, I tell you right now, we have a lot of good stuff coming in the future,that’s already decided to come here.”
After getting only four hits in the first two games, Eriksen went to a new lineup with Renee Oursler leading off, followed by Ginny Georgantas, Carmela Liwag and Holly Groves. That lineup had seven hits.
But the Bulls need more changes than lineups or other coach-imposed switches.
“I don’t think its time for drastic changes from the coaching staff in respect to lineups or anything else like that,” Eriksen said.
“I think its time for drastic changes from individuals if they want to maintain their status.”
Some drastic changes the players need to make are finding internal leadership and motivation to continue to try to form a winning team.
“We have a long tradition of success at this program and we have never given up and there has never been any quit,” Eriksen said. “Right now there may be some selfishness going on that needs to be addressed right away.”
The Bulls have nine games left to right the ship and find an answer to their offensive woes.
“They need to go through some self-analysis and come up with some answers,” Eriksen said. “They have to prove to this coaching staff and our athletic department that they belong with the University of South Florida playing softball.”
With a record well below .500, the team has not performed to the coaches’ expectations, and changes are all but imminent.
“This is the worst situation that we have ever had here,” Eriksen said.
Bryan Fazio covers softball and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org