No let-up in the competition for Ellis, Bulls

Two days after going toe-to-toe with one of the best pitchers on her schedule, Bulls pitcher Leigh Ann Ellis will be at it again.

On Wednesday, Ellis battled Florida’s Jenny Gladding through seven innings, striking out 11 batters while giving up three runs in a 3-1 loss to the No. 24 Gators. Gladding was just that much better, yielding three hits and one unearned run in the complete-game victory.

Ellis continues her fine season, posting a 21-6 record with 23 complete games, 223 strikeouts and a 0.86 ERA.

This weekend, the No. 22 Bulls (39-12, 9-3 in Conference USA) begin a crucial three-game conference series, as they take on St. Louis (11-8, 6-6 in C-USA), starting with a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Saturday. Ellis will meet her equal in Billikens ace Nicole Bohnenstiehl.

Bohnenstiehl was a first-team C-USA selectee last year after posting 13 wins with 199 strikeouts. Last year against the Bulls, she struck out 12 batters en route to a 7-6 win and a three-game sweep.

The Billikens have struggled offensively in 2003, with Ashlee Heady the lone starter batting more than .300.

The Bulls come in to this weekend winners of 15 of their past 20 games. Junior Holly Groves and sophomore Carmela Liwag have heated up lately for USF.

Each has 40 RBI, eight short of the all-time record set by Christy Byrd in 1991. Groves also set the home run record earlier, knocking eight over the fence, while Liwag is not too far behind with six.

Thomas Carrigan covers USF softball and can be reached at