Softball disappoints against No. 4 Tennessee, NC State
Published: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 17, 2013 23:02
The No. 12 ranked USF softball team (6-3) was tied at zero with the No. 4 ranked Tennessee Lady Volunteers (10-0) for five innings on Saturday.
But hopes of defeating a top five opponent went astray in the sixth inning.
USF junior pitcher Sara Nevins was in the midst of throwing a no-hitter against a Tennessee offense that featured three 2012 All-Americans and came into Saturday’s contest averaging 9.7 runs per game this season.
With two outs, Tennessee’s junior Melissa Davin squeezed out an infield single to notch the first hit for the Volunteers.
Tennessee’s senior outfielder Kat Dotson then batted in pinch-runner Whitney Hammond to score the first run of the game.
The Bulls were still in good shape and would have escaped the offensive barrage, if it weren’t for an ill-timed defensive error by first baseman Stephanie Medina.
Medina, a junior, attempted to catch a softly-hit ball a couple feet into foul territory. As the ball descended, it deflected off the outer part of her glove, and bounced into fair territory, allowing a second run to score.
The error opened the floodgates, and the Bulls were stuck in dangerous water.
“Great teams are like sharks that smell blood in the water,” coach Ken Eriksen said, “You can’t give them extra at-bats.”
With only four offensive outs left to play with, Tennessee scored 11 runs, six of them earned.
USF left six runners on base in the game, and lost 11-0.
Even with a disappointing loss, the Bulls had a chance to make it to Sunday’s final for a rematch against Tennessee.
The Bulls also faced off with North Carolina State on Saturday in a semifinal game of the four-team tournament.
The NC State bus carrying the softball team was struck by two vehicles on Thursday at the intersection of 50th Street and Fletcher, but no injuries were sustained, according to a statement from University Police (UP).
But the Bulls just couldn’t score on Saturday, and left nine runners on base against NC State.
Medina’s error against Tennessee seemed to be contagious.
Junior shortstop Kourtney Salvarola, Medina and junior Dani Wayt all had defensive errors in the NC State game and the Bulls lost 2-1.
“I’m really at a loss for words,” Eriksen said after Saturday’s losses. “We had three or four All-Region caliber players making uncharacteristic defensive errors.”
USF had seven errors in five games played. Medina was responsible for three, and Salvarola for two. Wayt and freshman catcher Lee Ann Spivey had one error each.
There were also defensive opportunities by freshman Monica Santos and junior Ashli Goff that were misplayed, but not recorded as errors.
“To be in position for the postseason, we have to play flawless (defensive) softball,” Eriksen said. “These mistakes will take you out of ball games you have a chance to win. All we’re trying to do is play catch and throw and we can’t do that right now.”
Eriksen said he had not seen any defensive struggles in last week’s practices and made it clear that this week’s practice will be directed towards getting back to playing sound defense.
The Bulls won both preliminary games on Friday.
USF defeated North Carolina 1-0 after finally managing a run in the seventh inning when junior shortstop Kourtney Salvarola’s walk off single scored junior Ilaura Reeves.
Lindsey Richardson and Sara Nevins combined for 11 strikeouts, two walks and four hits in the shutout win.
Tthe Bulls also defeated the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers 5-2 thanks to Medina and Spivey each batting in two runs.