The winning streak for South Florida softball moved to 10, with an impressive 5-4 win Wednesday against No. 14 Iowa.The Bulls (17-20-1) scored five runs on nine hits against All-American pitcher Kristi Hanks (5-5), including the tying and go-ahead runs with two outs in both the third and fifth innings. Hanks heads a staff that led Iowa to the College World Series last year.
“We’ve been facing (pitchers) like Lauren Bay out of Oklahoma State, Jennie Finch and Jenny Gladding at Arizona, so we have seen it all,” Bulls coach Ken Eriksen said. “Now that we can hold it together pitching and defensive-wise, we are going to be in the games against those kinds of players.”
The Bulls held it together defensively, committing no errors, diving for clutch outs in the late innings and crashing into fences in pursuit of foul balls.
The pitching combination of Katie Dugger and Corin Tassio (6-5) kept the Bulls in the game, allowing only six hits with four walks and three earned runs.
“We came through with picking ourselves up after we walked a bunch of people,” Eriksen said. “Our pitchers did a good job of getting out of it.”
The Bulls relied on clutch hitting, including two-hit days by Ginny Georgantas, Shelly Riker and Renee Oursler.
“We swung the bat very aggressively early in the count,” Eriksen said. “Renee Oursler, Ginny Georgantas, Rena Rodriguez were just fabulous and those little rats (Riker and Stephanie Roberts) got on in front of them, and that really helps.”
The biggest drama came in the fourth inning when Christina Schmaltz hit a two-run home run off Dugger and gave the Hawkeyes (12-7) a 4-3 lead, forcing Eriksen to bring in Tassio.
Tassio proceeded to strike out the final batter of the inning. But IU’s coach brought to the umpire’s attention that Tassio was wearing No. 4 while the lineup card had her listed as No. 5. After a long meeting, involving the umpires researching the rulebook, the Hawkeyes were allowed to repeat the last pitch of the inning. Tassio got the batter out for the second time in the inning with a fly-out.
After the Hawkeyes played the Bulls to two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, for the second time in the game, USF answered with two runs. Georgantas hit a single and then stole second, before advancing to third on a lazy grounder to the pitcher by Oursler. Rena Rodriguez then placed a two-run hit to center field to put the Bulls ahead for good.
“I was thinking in my head, attack the ball,” Rodriguez said. “I just wanted to win.”
The Bulls threatened several times in the game, including leaving runners in scoring position the first two innings.
“Our team is believing right now,” Eriksen said. “(Iowa) is a team that just beat (No. 1) UCLA 1-0 two weeks ago. We scored a bunch of runs against pretty good pitching. That pitching staff was in the College World Series last year.”
USF earned the victory without two vital pieces in first baseman Carmela Liwag and Niki Trowell.
Liwag has a sprained ankle and will be ready to go by the weekend, while Trowell is battling flu symptoms.
- Bryan Fazio covers softball and can be reached at email@example.com