USF sophomore outfielder Ryan Lockwood and his teammates don’t feel any pressure after last weekend’s performance.
However, that doesn’t mean going 4-0 this weekend isn’t their top priority.
“We expect a lot out of ourselves,” Lockwood said. “I don’t think the fact that we went 1-2 (last weekend) is going to change the way we play, but there’s definitely a sense of urgency to go out there and perform well this weekend.”
Lockwood and the Bulls travel to the FGCU Classic in Fort Myers this weekend, where they’ll try to live up to high expectations set before the season began — when USF was picked to finish second in the Big East.
The Bulls will play Boston College (4-0) at noon today, followed by games against Samford, Florida Gulf Coast and Towson.
“This group’s going to get it,” said coach Lelo Prado after a 4-4 exhibition tie with the Netherlands National Team on Tuesday night. “This group is going to be good. We have a chance to be a really good team once we take care of details.”
Lockwood said he can focus on details at the plate now that the pressure of a 32-game hit streak is over. The streak was snapped after a hitless game Sunday in a 9-7 loss to Indiana.
“It’s a huge weight off your shoulders,” he said. “When you’re on a streak like that, you’re going up there trying to grind out a hit instead of working an at-bat, and that’s not the way you get hits. You have to go up there and let your swing do its job. That’s how you get hits.”
The reigning Collegiate Baseball Freshman of the year said it was affecting his psychological approach, too.
“The last thing you want is to go up there and think about it,” Lockwood said. “Now that it’s done, I feel like I can go back to work — and that’s a great thing.”
USF is expected to send pitcher Randy Fontanez to the mound Thursday to face the undefeated Golden Eagles. Fontanez pitched seven innings Feb. 20 in a 6-5 loss to Michigan, giving up only two runs on six hits.
Sophomore Matt Stull will make his first appearance of the season Friday. Sophomore Derrick Stultz will pitch Saturday and junior Shawn Sanford is expected to take the mound Sunday.
“I told the team the other day, I expect to go down there and be 4-0,” Prado said. “We play another great team right off the bat, but if we play the way we’re capable of playing, we’ll be fine. I think they’re hungry. I think this team wants to win. I think this team works hard enough to win.”