After coming up short in game one of the NCAA Super Regionals on Friday, the USF softball team was one game from elimination. But with their backs against the wall, the Bulls made the right plays when they mattered most, and rode an unrelenting home-field advantage to the first trip to the Women’s College World Series in USF history, defeating Hofstra 2-1 back-to-back Saturday.
In the deciding game three, the Bulls trusted their southpaw ace Sara Nevins and fed the Mouse.
In the third back-and-forth pitcher battle of the series, the key plays came from senior third baseman Jessica Mouse, who has inspired the team mantra of feed the Mouse, a tactic that has led them to victory.
During the last huddle (with one out left in the game)…I told them, okay let’s feed the Mouse and end the game, Eriksen said. And as I was walking away, I heard her say ‘that’s what I want to hear.
Mouse’s trademark play came in the third inning, when there were runners on first and second, with no outs and the Pride threatening to take the lead. Mouse snagged a grounder, stepped on third and fired to first to get the game changing double play.
You’re always taught to think of the play before it happens, Mouse said. (Nevins) got me the ground ball, and all I was thinking was to turn two.
The decisive run came in the fifth inning, when a fly out from first baseman Stephanie Medina scored speedster Gina Kafalas on the sacrifice fly. The duo of Nevins and Mouse finished off the last two innings scoreless, and the celebration was on.
Confidence was key for the Bulls entering Saturday’s must-win game two. They refused to falter while facing pitcher Olivia Galati, who was on a personal 32-game winning streak with a 0.91 ERA. The Bulls and Pride battled for nine innings, the second straight extra inning affair between the two teams, before Laura Fountain brought in the game deciding run with a Sac Fly in the top of the ninth.
Fountain’s clutch hit set the Bulls up for a Game 3, a win-or-go-home matchup. USF pulled it out, securing one of eight spots in the 2012 Women’s College World Series.
The Bulls travel to Oklahoma City on Tuesday, to play in the eight-team, double-elimination championship tournament. They will get started Thursday with the fourth seed Oklahoma Sooners, who will host the event.