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Softball team has mixed fortunes at University of Arizona tourney

South Florida came away from this weekend’s Pepsi-Arizona Softball Classic with a record of 2-3.

Sunday, USF lost to No. 14 Notre Dame 5-3 after a two-run rally came up short in the top of the seventh inning.

Holly Groves drove in Stephanie Roberts and Ginny Georgantas with a single to center field. Groves had five RBI on the weekend and was an integral part of the Bulls’ offensive success.Defensively, errors for the Bulls by Groves and Rachel Williams led to a combined three runs in the third and fourth innings. Corin Tassio pitched a complete game allowing just two runs, dropping her to 0-3 on the season.

The Bulls committed eight errors in the tournament, bringing their season total to 25.

“If we’re not catching the balls and making the plays, we’re opening the flood gates,” Bulls coach Ken Eriksen said. “In all those losses, errors were the keys.”

Throughout the tournament the Bulls’ victories relied on the success of the lineup’s first two hitters, Roberts and Shelly Riker.In USF’s two victories, they combined for 6-of-12 hitting with 3 walks. In the Bulls’ three losses, Roberts and Riker went 4-of-15 (.266) with 2 walks.

“They’re doing an outstanding job setting the table,” Eriksen said. “If you’re swinging the bats, things are going to happen.”In the first game of the tournament, the Bulls lost 7-1 to Auburn despite Riker and Roberts hitting a combined 4-of-5, including hits in each of their first at-bats. USF also amassed three errors in the loss to the Tigers.

USF fared better in the second game, using Riker and Roberts on base to their advantage as Courtney Lewellen, batting in the cleanup spot, had three hits, scored two runs and drove in three more.

“The (box scores) don’t tell how hard they hit,” Eriksen said. “They hit the ball on the screws all weekend. They were really swinging the bat really well.”

In the Bulls’ 10-9 victory vs. New Mexico State, Lewellen hit her first home run of the season with a solo shot to center field with two outs in the first inning. Roberts had two hits with a triple and scored a run, driving in another.

In the top of the fourth inning, the Aggies scored four runs to take a 9-5 lead. During the Bulls’ next at-bat, Lewellen hit a single to drive in Riker from third base.

Groves started a four-run seventh inning when she hit a two-run triple that brought home Andrea Buenano and Alanna Hazzard. Groves then scored when Niki Trowell hit a double. Lewellen hit a fielder’s choice to win the game for the Bulls.During the second day of the tournament, USF won its second game when it defeated Conference USA foe Louisville in a non-conference game.

Once again Roberts and Riker started the game with hits, and Roberts scored the first run of the game when Groves hit a single.Louisville came back when Sara Bausher hit a solo home run in the third inning and then an RBI single in the fifth.

Georgantas put the game into extra innings when she hit a single that allowed Hazzard to score. In the top of the eighth, Trowell drove in shortstop Renee Oursler for the go-ahead run.In the next game the defending national champion, Arizona, pounced on the Bulls, shutting out the Bulls for the first time this season, winning 10-0 in five innings.

Jenny Gladding, a native of Florida, hit a grand slam to top off a five-run first inning for the Wildcats, who never looked back.”It was kind of funny. After that game, they couldn’t wait to play them again,” Eriksen said. “That’s a good sign.”

The Bulls will now play 17 consecutive home games, starting with the USF-Holiday Inn Tournament.

“This week we have to recommit ourselves to being flawless,” Eriksen said. “There cannot be any lax.”