The South Florida softball team reacted Wednesday to coach Ken Eriksen declaring the team “the worst situation here ever” by defeating Stetson 4-0 in a game shortened by bad weather.The Bulls (20-28-1) ended their streak of 30 scoreless innings, scoring in the first and second innings to seal the victory before the game was called in the middle of the sixth inning.
“I think the team basically took some inspiration this week from some of the things they were reading in the newspapers, and I think they took it upon themselves,” Eriksen said. “I really had nothing to do with that ballgame.”
The team showed character by bouncing back from a five-game losing streak with a strong start against the No. 29 Hatters (41-8).
“I don’t know what the difference was in our team,” Corin Tassio said. “Everyone knew we were coming off of a hard week. I think it shows a lot of character. I think we challenged our team to look within ourselves to figure out ourselves and get it straight.”
The Bulls started out the game aggressively when Stephanie Roberts walked, and Shelly Riker hit a single to drive her to second. A bunt by Carmela Liwag loaded the bases before Courtney Lewellen hit a sacrifice fly. Riker scored the second run of the inning on a single by Ginny Georgantas.
“They were really aggressive,” Eriksen said. “At times overly aggressive, but that’s OK. We can work with overly aggressive. We can’t work with nonaggressive.”
In the second inning, Tassio helped her own cause when she hit a single to start a two-run inning that was capped off when Liwag hit a two-run double that led to her taking third base off an error.
Tassio gave up three hits and one walk while throwing five strikeouts in five innings.
“She was getting ahead in crucial situations, and when she was behind she was able to throw off-speed pitches in hitting counts,” Eriksen said. “If you can throw off-speed in hitting counts then you have the batters really confused.”
When the Bulls started to show some offensive life for the first time since facing Florida on April 10, their efforts were cut short due to the cancellation of the second game of the doubleheader.
“Any time that you can win the curtain raiser, then you have a good shot of winning Game 2,” Eriksen said. “Heck, how many games have we lost that were potential wins for us, that we lost to the weather?”
After meeting the challenge of an upset coach, they will face the challenge of playing against the top team in Conference USA when USF travels to DePaul this weekend.
“The weather is supposed to be a little cool up there, so there are challenges all over the place,” Eriksen said. “We have to come out and play flawless softball to be successful.”
Bryan Fazio covers softball and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org