The USF softball team won 43 games last season, including a 12-9 record in Conference USA, and went on a run to the NCAA regional playoffs.
This season’s team is relatively new, with five freshmen and a redshirt sophomore.
Before you can walk you have to learn how to crawl, and this year’s team has had its share of bruises trying to get upright.
The Bulls are 6-11-1, with only freshman pitcher Niki Trowell winning any games, while redshirt freshman Katie Dugger and redshirt sophomore Corin Tassio are still trying to gain experience.
The staff has combined to allow 162 hits, 74 earned runs and 63 walks.
Trowell and Rachel Rosenbaum, who has only pitched one inning, are the only pitchers with an ERA under four.
“The biggest issue you have in athletics is that the lesson is being learned in experience,” coach Ken Eriksen said. “You don’t teach and say, ‘here you go.’ You have to go out and learn your lesson while you’re getting experience.”
The relatively new defense also has seen troubles in the start of the season, committing 32 errors, including 10 by shortstop Renee Oursler, and eight by Ginny Georgantas, who moved to second from third base.
The team needs to correct these shortcomings and start playing at the level a team ranked No. 25 before the season is expected to play.
“Hopefully our team realizes that when it comes time to the NCAA selection show at the end of the year, it is what you do outside your conference that counts if you don’t win your conference tournament,” Eriksen said. “We have thrown away six or seven ballgames already against teams that are going to be there at the end.”
The Bulls have their lineup set now with center fielder Stephanie Roberts, left fielder Shelly Riker, first baseman Carmela Liwag and catcher Courtney Lewellen as the first four batters. Georgantas bats fifth, followed by Holly Groves, with Rena Rodriguez and Rachel Williams platooning at third and Oursler rounding out the lineup.
The Bulls will have to start focusing on conference games this weekend when they host Houston in a doubleheader Saturday and a third game Sunday.
“It’s a new season. Everybody’s 0-0 on Saturday, and that’s important,” Eriksen said. “I don’t think anyone plays the non-conference schedule that we play. There’s no doubt about that. I guarantee you when conference comes, there is nothing we haven’t seen already.”