2 and BBQ for Bulls

Florida State baseball coach Mike Martin used to have an expression for his team’s poor performance at the College Baseball World Series – two and barbecue.
Unfortunately for USF softball coach Ken Eriksen, he knows the feeling all too well after his Bulls were eliminated from this weekend’s Conference USA Tournament in two games. USF, the tournament host, opened with a 7-2 loss Thursday to Louisville and jumped out to an early 3-0 lead Friday vs. Southern Miss only to watch as the Golden Eagles mustered a seven-run second inning to oust the Bulls from the tourney with a 7-4 victory.
“It’s never easy to end a season when you have to say goodbye to some seniors,” Eriksen said. “They’ve contributed to the program, but at the same time, the building blocks are there. I can tell you this right now, the cavalry’s on its way, and we’ll be very, very successful in the next three to five years.”
With the program’s first losing season since 1989, the Bulls (24-33-1) will not move on to the regionals. USF advanced to the regional tournament in 1996-98 and 2001.
Stressing winning two of the three fundamentals – pitching, fielding and defense – Eriksen must have been dismayed as the Bulls were unable to get a consistent performance in any one of the categories.
The Bulls’ control evaporated against Southern Miss. Starter Niki Trowell and reliever Corin Tassio combined for seven walks in seven innings while the Golden Eagles pounded out six hits. It mounted to a head in the second as Laura Davis singled in USM’s first two runs, and Trowell walked Kristie Martin to load the bases with one out. Tassio came in and proceeded to walk the next two batters to put the Eagles in front 4-3. Tammy Edwards singled between short and third to push home the fifth run, and Channika Gant’s second hit of the inning, a double to the wall in right center, brought home two more runs to wrap up the Eagles’ scoring.
“You can give up a base hit, but with a three-run lead, you don’t want to follow that up with walks,” Eriksen said.
The Bulls’ fielding was the culprit Friday as four errors helped the Cardinals advance in the tourney.
“I have no explanation for us not catching fly balls,” Eriksen said. “Breaking back on ground balls and breaking forward on fly balls, that’s the opposite of what we’re supposed to be doing. I don’t know if the pressure got to our people on the team. It’s the first time some of them have been in the conference tournament.
The worst part about it is, the ones who’ve been there before, they’re the ones who were making some crucial judgment errors.”Louisville scored three in the first to open the scoring as the Bulls were forced to the visitors side by virtue of their fifth seed. Jessica Rak helped the No. 4 Cardinals keep their edge, but Holly Groves’ two-run homer in the fourth, her third on the year, got the Bulls to within one. However, the Bulls bats sank in the clutch as USF stranded two runners in the fourth and one in the fifth. But the sixth was the heartbreaker for the Bulls as they left the bases loaded.Louisville tacked on one more in the fifth and three in the sixth to salt away the victory.
“(It was) kind of like running uphill,” Eriksen said. “We ran uphill all day today, and we couldn’t get to the top.”
Top seed DePaul claimed the title Saturday when Saskia
Roberson’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth went just deep enough for pinch runner Jenny Doezie to streak home with the winning run. Behind the arm of tournament MVP Lindsay Chouinard, the Blue Demons shut out Louisville Thursday and crushed UAB 10-1 Friday. But the Blazers, who used a home run by Sara Christophel that bounced off the yellow piping on top of the fence to beat Southern Miss in loser’s bracket final, kept their rematch in the final close. Kerri Foster silenced the Blue Demons’ potent bats, but Chouinard proved too tough. After scoring the first two runs off Chouinard in 82 innings, the Blazers stranded runners in the eighth and the ninth innings, allowing DePaul to strike in the ninth for the 2-1 victory to win their first C-USA title.