TALLAHASSEE — In a game that was won in the pitching circle, USF softball (41-17) defeated South Carolina 3-2 in the opening game of the NCAA Regional on Friday afternoon at JoAnne Graf Field in Tallahassee.
Sophomore pitcher Georgina Corrick threw a complete game, striking out 11 and allowing only four hits. Corrick retired 10 batters in a row between the second and fifth innings.
“South Carolina is a very strong hitting team and we knew they had a lot of power,” Corrick said. “We kind of wanted to hammer the inside of the zone and make them kind of work both for my speed and my off-speed.”
With USF up 3-1 in the fifth inning, South Carolina infielder Mackenzie Boesel hit a two-out RBI double. With the lead in jeopardy, Corrick managed to table the threat of the potentially dangerous situation.
“I just have a lot of confidence in my defense,” Corrick said. “I know that we’ve gotten out of situations a lot worse, we’ve gotten out of situations a lot better, so I think you can never really play into that situation that they created because that’s exactly what they want to do.”
USF was patient at the plate. The Bulls drew five walks, which they capitalized on. Meghan Sheehan and Riley Gore both scored on walks in the first and fourth innings, respectively, and Lindsey Devitt scored on a sacrifice fly in the third.
“The reason [South Carolina] struggled today was the patience of our hitters,” coach Ken Eriksen said. “How many guys in the SEC chase the rise ball? Because they are rise ball hitters. We’re not … today we were better than their pitching staff and I was really surprised that their pitchers didn’t pound the zone as much.”
USF and South Carolina (36-18) have faced each other five times in the NCAA Regional and USF holds a 3-2 edge in the series against the Gamecocks in Tallahassee.
The Bulls had not won against South Carolina, in Tallahassee or anywhere else, since the 2014 NCAA Regional, which also ended 3-2.
“We’re not the same team that they went against when we dropped those games,” Eriksen said. “This year, we saw what we needed to do. We knew that our hitters would be OK against their pitching, it was just a matter of whether or not our staff can stop their hitters.
“Today, the Bulls were better than the Gamecocks.”
Though only by a little, as Eriksen noted with a hand gesture.
USF will next play No. 4-seed FSU (52-8) on Saturday at noon in the winner’s bracket. If USF beats the Seminoles, it would not play again until Sunday. However, if the Bulls lose, they would play an elimination game later Saturday afternoon.