Bulls drop first conference series

The USF softball team (22-15, 1-2) opened up conference play taking one out of three games against conference foe Louisville.

On Saturday, the Bulls beat Louisville 6-2 in their conference opener, but then dropped the next game of the doubleheader 3-1. The Bulls went into Sunday’s game with a chance to take the series with a win.

USF, however, would come up short in a closely contested game losing 1-0 in eight innings.

The Bulls, kept the game close mainly because of some solid work on the mound by freshman pitcher Bree Spence.

“What an unbelievable effort from Bree Spence,” coach Ken Eriksen said. “(She) went up against two seasoned pitchers on Louisville and was toe-to-toe with them.”

Spence (9-6) gave up seven hits, struck out five and left eight runners on base in eight innings of work, but the Cardinals’ experienced pitching staff proved to be too much for USF, as they shut down the Bulls’ batters and allowed only two hits.

The Bulls though, were not without their opportunities on offense.

Louisville pitchers gave up seven walks, and the Cardinals’ defense committed two errors in the game. The Bulls also managed to load the bases in the sixth inning and got one runner in scoring position in the seventh, but they came up empty each time.

The pitching kept the game scoreless through seven innings, but when it went into the eighth, Louisville wasted little time breaking the scoring drought.

After a sacrifice bunt moved Louisville’s Audrey Rendon to second, Lacy Wood hit a single to right field, bringing Rendon home and giving Louisville the lead.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Bulls got their final chance to extend the game. Louisville pitcher Catherine Bishop committed an error and threw two wild pitches in the inning, giving junior Krista Holle a chance to tie or win the game with runners on first and third and two outs. But Bishop came through, striking out Holle, and giving the Cardinals the win and the series.

With the win, Louisville improved to 14-10 on the season and 2-1 in the conference. The Cardinals were the preseason pick among Conference USA coaches to win the conference title this season.

Despite the two losses, Eriksen was impressed with the team’s attitude and hard work.

“I like the way we stepped it up a little bit this weekend,” Eriksen said. “If we play with the type of intensity we did in game one and game three, we have a chance to walk out of here with the Conference USA crown.”