Talk about big timers.
For the second weekend in a row, the USF (6-1) softball team will have a slate of college powerhouses. While competing in the University of Florida Tournament, the Bulls take on Florida, Oklahoma and Illinois-Chicago. Like Arizona last weekend, Oklahoma competed in the College World Series last year and is currently ranked No. 8 in the country. If you ask senior Renee Oursler if the team is a bit apprehensive, she’ll tell you the team isn’t afraid, but psyched up.
“The whole team is excited,” Oursler said. “We know that they’re a good team, and we’re excited to see how we play against them.”
Oklahoma is led by senior Leah Gulla. Gulla stroked a team high 15 home runs last year, along with 47 runs batted in and a .315 batting average. The last time Oklahoma started off the year ranked No. 8 in the country was in 2000. That year, the Sooners took home the national championship.
Against Florida, USF is looking to bounce the tournament hosts. They split the season series at the same tournament last year against the Gators winning 5-3 and losing 4-1. UF leads the all-time series 16-8. The Gators are currently 5-3 for the season and are led by senior Jenni Mossadeghi, who leads the team with a .423 average and junior pitcher Jenny Gladding, an Arizona transfer who’s 1-1 with a 3.50 ERA for the year. The seniors, especially Oursler, want to get redemption against their state rivals.
“It’s our last year, last time around and we always enjoy the UF tournament,” Oursler said. “I just hope I play well and help lead this team to success. If I don’t do it this time, there is no next time.”
Illinois-Chicago comes in the tournament winless for the year at 0-5. Junior Amanda Rivera leads the team offensively with a .333 average while junior Alison Aquilar has already thrown two complete games and sports a 2.15 ERA.
For the Bulls, Seniors Courtney Lewellen and Stephanie Roberts have started off on a tear this year. Both are batting .421 and .400 for the year, while junior pitchers Leigh Ann Ellis and Corin Tassio have been stingy, each sporting a 1.12 and 1.33 ERA.
Game times Friday are 4 p.m. against Florida and 6:30 p.m. against Oklahoma. The Illinois-Chicago game is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, with later games depending on the Bulls’ tournament record.