Ellis’ arm the story of USF’s softball success

Pitcher Leigh Ann Ellis has become a one-woman show for the USF softball team.

On the shoulders of the junior transfer from Tennessee, the Bulls went 10-4 during spring break.

Ellis went 8-2 during the break to run her record to 15-4, striking out 73 batters in 57.2 innings of work. Ellis also became the first player in USF history to throw back-to-back no-hitters, throwing a perfect game against Canisius and no-hitting Ball State. Ellis struck out nine batters in five innings of work against Canisius.

Against UAB Sunday, Ellis struck out 15 batters in a 7-0 win. The 15 strikeouts put her at 169 strikeouts for the year, tying Monica Triner’s record set in 1996.

After the departure of ace Corin Tassio two weeks ago, Ellis has stepped up and solidified her position as the go-to pitcher.

“I know that I’m going to be called upon more to throw a lot of innings for the team,” Ellis said.

Throwing in 10 games during the break, Ellis is beginning to feel the effects of the constant use. However, she has been recuperating by going to rehabilitation and working out.

“I’ve been taking care of my body by going to rehab and doing exercises with Theraband tubing,” Ellis said. “I’m just always trying to make my shoulder stronger.”

Pitching wasn’t the only significant factor for the Bulls. The offense sparkled, scoring 70 runs in 14 games. Sophomore Carmela Liwag busted out with four home runs, while junior Holly Groves hit three home runs.

Before the tournament, both players were hitting in the low .200s, Liwag increased her batting average to .257 while Groves upped her average to .294.

The Bulls mercy-ruled three opponents during the break. USF defeated Canisius 10-0, Wagner 8-0 and Ball State 8-0. Against Canisius, Krista Holle, Christie Chapman and Liwag each drove in two runs for the Bulls. Renee Oursler tripled in two runs against Wagner, while Liwag drove in three with three hits against Ball State.

Stephanie Roberts has also been hot of late, with 11 hits in the past seven games to drive her batting average up to .340.

After the USF softball team saw its school record 17-game winning streak snapped against No. 12 Stanford with a 1-0 loss during the Speedline Invitational, the No. 21 Bulls weren’t fazed.

Despite losing the next game to Coastal Carolina 2-1, the Bulls bounced back to defeat Western Michigan 7-1 before being eliminated by Oklahoma State 5-1 in the tournament. Those were three of four losses the Bulls suffered, as the Bulls went 10-4 during spring break to run their record to 31-8.