USF wins school record 18th straight

By Michael Manganello SPORTS EDITOR
On April 12, 2012

Janine Richardson reached first base, looked to assistant coach Stacey Heintz, smiled and shrugged.

Richardson was on first base because of a hit that went no further than two feet from home plate, but allowed her to run 60 feet and reach first base safely. It wasnt a pretty display of hitting prowess from the center fielder, but it worked.

And lately, it seems like everything is working for the No. 18 USF softball team, which swept a Wednesday afternoon doubleheader from Providence. The Bulls winning streak is now at a school-record 18 games, not that coach Ken Eriksen, in his 27th season as coach, noticed.

Somebody said that to me the other day, they said, You know, theres a streak, Eriksen said. Im not even sure what the record is, to tell you the truth. I dont know if we broke it.

The Bulls (38-5, 11-0) received strong pitching again, blanking the Friars in both games and winning 5-0 each time, even if the pitching performances came in dramatically different styles.

Sara Nevins (23-2) pitched six innings in game one, throwing 93 pitches in a dominant two-hit shutout and striking out 12 Friars. Providence leadoff hitter Jen Abrams went 2-for-2 with a pair of singles, but the rest of the lineup went a combined 0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts. The remaining six outs came via groundball.

In game two, Sam Greiner (9-3) pitched a four-hit shutout, needing only 79 pitches to complete seven innings. Relying on her groundball, she stuck out only four batters.

I give a lot of credit to my defense, Greiner said. I didnt have a lot of strikeouts today, which is pretty usual, and they did a great job behind me. I know that even though I dont get a lot of strikeouts, I know that theyre good behind me.

For both pitchers the result was the same, as USF reached 11-0 in conference play for the first time.

Lindsey Richardson relieved Nevins to pitch the last inning, her first appearance since March 9 due to shoulder tightness. After walking the leadoff batter, she struck out the next two batters and ended the inning with a fly ball.

Eriksen remains focused on continuing to make progress, looking toward Thursdays practice before the team heads to Connecticut for a three-game set against the Huskies (17-14, 6-3).

Consistency has been our mantra all year. Im looking forward to practice tomorrow to work on some things that we didnt do altogether right today, he said. I told our team, The one thing we havent done yet is have a perfect practice.

USF heads north atop the Big East, with a two-game lead over No. 12 Louisville (35-2, 9-2). The Bulls will play a doubleheader Saturday before a Sunday morning finale.

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