Renee Oursler spent Monday afternoon hitting off a tee, and her numbers looked like teeball stats.
Led by Oursler’s “cycle” for the day, the USF softball team drubbed Hofstra 10-2 and Rhode Island 7-1. Oursler nailed a grand slam against Hofstra and racked up a triple, double and single against Rhode Island. Her seven RBI were a career high for Oursler in a doubleheader.
“I came in a little earlier today to hit off the tee,” Oursler said. “I’ve been lagging a little bit, so I wanted to learn from the mistakes I made earlier in the weekend. I just wanted to be aggressive today.”
The two wins run the Bulls’ record to 11-4, their best start since 1999.
Against USF, the Pride got off to a fast start. Amanda Hallaway drove in Heather Brousseau for the first run of the evening.
The lead for the Pride lasted all of one inning.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Bulls offense exploded, scoring nine runs. With the bases loaded, Courtney Lewellen recorded an RBI single and Holly Groves walked, pushing across another run to make it 2-1. With the bases loaded and the count 1-1, Oursler blasted a waist-high fastball over the left-field fence for her first home run of the year.
“I was just thinking, if the ball is in the zone, I’m swinging and swinging hard,” Oursler said. “I just wanted to hit it hard and put it in play.”
The barrage wasn’t over yet. After Christie Chapman and Krista Holle reached base on errors, Kattrina Dowd stepped up and nailed a two-run triple to left center field.
Stephanie Roberts brought home Dowd with an error to the shortstop before Carmela Liwag grounded out to first base, ending the inning. Down 1-0 going into the third inning, USF was now up 9-1.
“It’s nice to see us finally explode a little bit,” coach Ken Eriksen said. “We got what we needed to in the past just to win, and it’s nice to get a little breathing room and some decent pitching today.”
Up 9-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Lewellen belted her third hit and first home run of the year over the left field fence. The 10th run represented the mercy run, ending the game.
The mercy rule goes into effect when one team is winning by eight runs or more after five innings.
“What a day Courtney had. We might have the only fourth place hitter in the country that is not a home-run hitter,” Eriksen said. “She’s not the type of kid that’s going to hit a lot of home runs, but she’s going to put the bat on the ball in crucial situations for us, and she’s very consistent.”
Overshadowed in the offensive show was the fine performance by starting pitcher Leigh Ann Ellis.
The hard-throwing southpaw gave up four hits, struck out three and walked none for her fourth win of the year.
“I was trying to get ahead in the count against all the batters,” Ellis said. “I didn’t want to walk anyone because those are just free runs, and my goal is to not give up any walks.”
Ellis also applauded the defense which surrendered no errors.
“The defense is awesome every day. You couldn’t ask for a better defense,” Ellis said. “If I make a mistake, they pick it up, and it makes me have full confidence in them all the time.”
Against Rhode Island, the Bulls wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. In the top of the first inning, after Liwag and Lewellen reached base, Oursler stepped up and delivered a two-run double.
In the top of the third, after Oursler singled, Chapman knocked an RBI triple, scoring Oursler.
In the top of the fifth, Chapman again drove in Oursler with an RBI double to make it 5-1. With Chapman on base, Holle came up to bat and nailed the first home run of her college career, putting the game out of reach at 7-1.