Before Tuesday’s doubleheader against the University of Maine, USF softball coach Ken Eriksen said both were must-wins. The team got halfway.
The Bulls (13-9) split a doubleheader with the Black Bears, winning the opener 7-1, and then losing 1-0 at the USF Softball Field.
“Right now, we’re just in a funk,” Eriksen said. “A 3-4 record over our last seven games is very disappointing.”
The Bulls got their offense going in the first game by breaking a 1-1 tie with six runs in the fifth inning. The offense was led by senior second baseman Britta Giddens, whose two-run double gave USF a 3-1 lead.
Freshman pitcher Candace Howell pitched 3 2/3 innings of relief to pick up the victory.
“I got help from my teammates in the field tonight,” Howell said. “It gave me the confidence to throw the ball well tonight.”
Eriksen said he was pleased with Howell’s performance.
“Candace (Howell) threw the ball well tonight,” he said. “She got ahead of batters and gave us a chance to get the offense going.”
A pitcher’s duel ensued between USF’s junior Kristen Gordon and Maine’s Alexis Souhlaris.
Souhlaris helped herself out, hitting a towering solo home run over the left field fence. She then pitched a complete game, giving up five hits, and two walks.
Eriksen said she was impressed with Souhlaris.
“Souhlaris threw a great game,” Eriksen said. “She is one the best pitchers we will face all year. We weren’t able to respond to her tonight and we certainly don’t want to face her again.”
Gordon threw 5 1/3 innings for the Bulls, giving up five hits and one run.
USF had several opportunities to tie the game. In the sixth inning, junior Ashley Bullion got on base with a double. However, junior third baseman Alison Savarese hit a grounder back to Souhlaris to end the inning.
Freshman shortstop Laura Fountain walked to start the seventh inning but was stranded at third base when freshman center fielder Janine Richardson lined out to end the game.
The Bulls will travel to Clearwater to host the Under Armour Invitational this weekend. Eriksen said the team needs to improve itself.
“We’re going up against a monster this weekend,” Eriksen said. “The monster we’re facing is USF. I believe that our biggest opponent right now is ourselves, and we’re not going to worry about the other teams that are going to be in the tournament.”