Stetson pulls sweep out of hat

The USF softball team headed out to Deland on Wednesday looking for a couple of wins on the road against Stetson, a team it usually dominates.

But crucial mistakes by the Bulls (26-19, 5-4 C-USA) enabled the Hatters (25-14, 3-3 A-SUN) to take both games of the doubleheader and earn bragging rights among the in-state rivals.

USF’s struggles began in the first game as Stetson blanked the Bulls 2-0.

The Hatters put two runs on the Bulls in the bottom of the first, due in part to two misplayed balls by Bulls’ second baseman Alycia LePage.

“We made some crucial errors that kind of got us into a bad frame of things,” coach Ken Eriksen said.

Adding to the Bulls’ defensive woes was their inability to get anything going on offense. The Hatters’ Jenny Diaz (3-1) pitched a solid game on the mound and did not allow the Bulls to get back into the game. Diaz allowed only seven hits and pitched all seven innings in the game for her first complete-game shutout of the season.

In the second game, the Hatters came back to win 8-7.

The Bulls scored early when Christie Chapman hit a three-run blast to left field to give USF a 3-0 lead. USF also added three runs in the fifth and one more in the sixth and had a 7-4 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, but mistakes plagued the Bulls again as Sarah Watson committed two errors, which helped the Hatters score three more runs to tie the game. The next batter up — Teri Lake — drove a single through the right side of the infield that scored the go-ahead run. Down by one run, the Bulls came up short again when Stetson’s Heather Colding retired the last three batters to give the Hatters the victory.

The two losses represented the first time in the 20-year history of the series that Stetson has ever had back-to-back wins over the Bulls, and it had Eriksen searching for a solution.

“We just have to learn to be more mentally tough,” said Eriksen. “We got to find some answers.”