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USF goes 3-1 in opening weekend tournament

It seemed as though the theme of the weekend for the USF softball team at the USF-Louisville Slugger Tournament was if senior Leigh Ann Ellis took the mound for the Bulls, the team came away with a victory.

But when it came to USF’s final game of the tournament Sunday against Bethune Cookman, it was the offense that rallied the Bulls (3-1) to the win. But it didn’t hurt that Ellis came on in relief.

Trailing 5-2 entering the seventh inning, the Bulls scored six runs in the inning, four coming from Holly Groves’ grand-slam home run, en route to an 8-5 win. Groves started the scoring with her third home run of the tournament, including her second grand slam, giving the Bulls a 6-5 lead. Krista Holle and Ellis each followed with RBI singles, putting USF ahead by three.

Ellis, who entered the game in the sixth for freshman Danielle Urbanik, shut down Bethune-Cookman in the seventh for her third win of the weekend.

The Bulls started the tournament with a 10-2 victory against Bethune-Cookman, aided by a seven-run first inning. Groves connected on her first home run of the season, a grand slam over the right-field wall. Samantha Ray followed with an RBI single, and Kattrina Down added a two-run double to close out the inning.

Carmela Liwag then added a three-run home run in the fourth inning. That was more than enough for Ellis, who pitched a complete game, allowing just two runs on five hits with four strikeouts. USF’s second game of the tournament didn’t go too well for a pair of freshman pitchers. Kasey Cash was roughed up in her collegiate debut against Florida Atlantic, allowing seven hits, two of which were home runs, and five earned runs in 1 1/3 innings as the Bulls fell 12-4. Urbanik relieved Cash in the second and also struggled, allowing 10 hits and six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The Bulls then got some revenge against the Owls the next day, in part because of Ellis.

Ellis pitched a complete-game three-hit shutout in USF’s 5-0 win.

Dowd led off the game for the Bulls with a solo home run, while Urbanik and Christie Chapman each followed with RBI singles in a three-run first. Groves then capped the scoring with a two-run home run in the fifth.