To win the first game of any season is one thing, to win by shutout while giving up only two hits is another.
Led by University of Tennessee transfer Leigh Ann Ellis’ 11-strikeout, two-hit performance in the first game of their season-opening doubleheader, the Bulls defeated Jacksonville 6-0 and 2-0. It was the first time since 1999 that the Bulls started their season off with a victory.
From the start, Ellis was dominant. She breezed through the first three innings, striking out eight of nine batters in that span.
In a scoreless game, the Bulls finally punched one through in the top of the fourth. Senior Stephanie Roberts started things off with a double down left field. Roberts advanced to third on a single from senior Courtney Lewellen, then scored on a sacrifice fly from junior Holly Groves.
The Bulls went scoreless in the fifth before busting through with five runs in the sixth inning.
After freshmen Kattrina Dowd and Samantha Ray scored on a groundout and single to make it 3-0, Groves, Renee Oursler and Christie Chapman all singled to load up the bases.
Freshman Krista Holle came to bat and delivered with the first hit of her college career, a bases-clearing three-run double.
Up 6-0, the Dolphins failed to mount any kind of comeback as Ellis finished the complete game, two-hitter. Offensively, USF racked up 11 hits and only left five runners on base.
In the nightcap, USF worked quickly, striking in the top of the first. Dowd led off the game with a single to left field.
After a Roberts walk, Carmela Liwag flied out, then Lewellen singled up the middle, scoring Dowd. It was a 1-0 game until the Bulls supplied a bit more breathing room when Roberts singled and Liwag walked to put two on in the seventh.
Lewellen followed up with her second RBI of the game, driving in Roberts.
Junior Corin Tassio pitched the second shutout of the afternoon, striking out four and giving up three hits.
The Bulls next game is Friday, when they host the Louisville Slugger Tournament.
They take on Northwestern and Sam Houston State Friday, then wrap up their weekend with games against 2002 national champions runner-up Arizona, Auburn and Florida Atlantic.