One year is enough turnaround time for Bulls

The USF softball team has undergone a complete metamorphosis, and it only took one year.

At this point during the 2002 season, the Bulls were 18-20-1 and on their way to the program’s first losing season in more than a decade.

At 31-8, this year’s team has the potential to win the conference and earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament, and perhaps win its way to the Women’s College World Series for the first time in school history.

The Bulls will try to take another step toward their goal when they host Maine today at 4.

After a school record 17-game winning streak was snapped last week, the Bulls bounced back to win eight of their past 12.

Heading into today’s doubleheader, the Bulls have also been difficult to beat on their own field, amassing a 23-1 home record.

Seniors Courtney Lewellen and Renee Oursler have been the offensive leaders for the Bulls.

Lewellen is batting .380 with 38 hits and 19 RBI, while showing patience at the plate with 18 bases on balls and only five strikeouts.

Oursler is batting .364, second on the team, with 24 runs and is third with two home runs. The Bulls also have three other players batting more than .300: Shelly Riker at .345, Stephanie Roberts at .330 and Kattrina Dowd at .315.

Jess Brady and Jenna Merchant are the big contributors to the Black Bears 9-4 start.

Brady is batting a team leading .500 with Merchant behind at .417. Merchant also leads the pitching corps in wins with five, going 5-2 with a 1.80 ERA.

Thomas Carrigan covers softball and can be reached at