It was the coldest weather the USF softball team has played in this season, but the 40 degree temperatures in Chicago over the weekend didn’t stop the Bulls from winning two out of three games against DePaul.
After splitting the Saturday doubleheader, tied in the conference standings at two losses apiece, a 13-inning pitcher’s duel on Sunday afternoon separated the Bulls and the Blue Demons near the top of the Big East standings.
Freshman catcher Morgan Litchfield got things started for the Bulls in the second inning with a solo home run to take a 1-0 lead.
Junior pitcher Sara Nevins got the start and held the Blue Demons scoreless until the fifth inning when Bulls coach Ken Eriksen brought senior Lindsey Richardson in to pitch.
The right-hander gave up a single to DePaul sophomore Mary Connolly that drove in two Blue Demons and tied it up 2-2.
Eriksen put Nevins back in the game immediately and she stayed until the end.
Both the Bulls and Blue Demons squandered many golden opportunities to score, leaving a combined 32 runners on base.
DePaul had two runners in scoring position in the 11th inning and loaded the bases in the 12th, but Nevins battled out of it on each occasion, just in time for the Bulls to make their move.
USF cashed in when junior outfielder Courtney Goff was hit by a pitch. Junior shortstop Kourtney Salvarola provided more clutch-hitting as well, with a single to score Spivey for a 4-2 lead.
The Blue Demons loaded the bases once again in the bottom of the 13th, and Nevins struck out two batters before walking home a run to make it 4-3.
On Nevins’ 230th pitch of the day, a ground ball to third base for the final out and a 4-3 win, the Bulls breathed a sigh of relief and hopped back on the team bus, tied with Louisville for the most wins (15) in the Big East.
The Bulls’ (37-13, 15-2) crucial 13th-inning victory on Sunday put them in third place in the conference based on winning percentage, behind Notre Dame (13-1) and after Louisville (42-6, 15-1) grabbed first place with a three-game sweep of Villanova.
The win was also Eriksen’s 731st in school history, which ties him for first place with Eddie Cardieri.
USF jumped out to an early lead in the first inning of Saturday’s first contest off the bat of Jackson, who blasted her ninth home run of the year and drove in sophomore outfielder D’Anna Devine and junior first baseman Stephanie Medina.
Nevins got the start and stepped into the circle with a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
The Blue Demons drew five walks, but were unable to score in the game, as they left eight runners on base.
Eriksen gave the start to Erica Nunn in Saturday’s second game and the freshman left-hander turned in a solid performance in her first career Big East road start.
Despite walking six, Blue Demons and striking out just one in 5 1/3 innings, Nunn was able to escape several jams and keep the Bulls in the game.
USF will have to endure more cold weather and face another conference opponent before returning home for the final regular season series this weekend against Syracuse .
The Bulls fly to New Jersey on Tuesday for a doubleheader at Seton Hall, who is currently in 10th place in the Big East.