After a poor start to the season, USF softball (22-12) is hitting on all cylinders when it matters most.
Or, perhaps, “pitching” on all cylinders, as the Bulls have recorded seven shut outs in a 15-game win streak that dates back to March 2. Most recently, the Bulls have shutout five of their last six opponents, including a no-hitter from freshman Georgina Corrick in Sunday’s 8-0 win over North Florida (18-14).
“Honestly, I go into every game and my attitude is, 'I'm going to throw a no-hitter,' but to actually follow through with it is so big for me,” Corrick said Sunday. “My job is to not let people hit me, and if they do, keep them weak. That's the best I could do: just keep it on the ground, keep low hits and the results speak for themselves."
The hot streak comes just as the Bulls are set to begin conference play at home against UConn (13-16) on Friday for a three-game series. Before the win-streak, USF was five games under .500 at 7-12.
Pitching hasn’t been the only improvement during the streak, as the Bulls have scored at least five runs in seven of their last eight games. In the win-streak as a whole, USF is currently averaging 5.8 runs per game. Before the streak, it averaged 3.5.
“They aren't trying to do too much; they aren't overthinking,” coach Ken Eriksen said Friday. “They are just taking a look at situations and playing ball. They have to maintain that against everybody they play. We are seeing the ball at the plate, and we are getting the good base-running."
A big reason for USF’s increase in run production has come via senior outfield Astin Donovan, who tied for a team-high 19 hits the past 15 games and leads the team with 11 stolen bases.
“You can't worry about tomorrow, you can't worry about yesterday,” Eriksen said of Donovan. “You have to worry about what's going on in the moment, and that's what she's doing right now."
Before the Bulls face off against the Huskies, they’ll travel to face No. 2 Florida on Wednesday. On Feb. 11, the Gators mercy-ruled the Bulls at USF Softball Stadium 14-3 in what was USF’s, which was 4-0 at the time, first loss of the season.
Though the rout of the Bulls looks ugly on the surface, the Gators (23-3) hadn’t given up a run all year at the time of the loss. Since then, they have only allowed two teams —Georgia and UL Lafayette — to score more than three runs on them all season.
“Any time you're knocking out three runs against a team like that, it's pretty good stuff,” Eriksen said after USF’s loss to Florida. “The majority of the time, you win games like that."
If USF’s pitching continues its dominance, three runs could be enough for the Bulls to upset Florida and extend its win streak to 16 games.
First pitch against the Gators will be at 6:05 p.m.