Who: USF (2-5), Western Carolina (1-1), Illinois (0-0), Stetson (3-5)
Where: Melching Field
The story: Coming into the Stetson Invitational, the Bulls are riding a four-game losing streak after a three-game sweep by Jacksonville and a 6-5 loss to North Florida on Tuesday. USF will face Western Carolina on Friday, Illinois on Saturday and Stetson in a rare Sunday game against the in-state foe, which will be the 140th meeting between the teams.
In Friday’s start, Casey Hudspeth will look to overcome last week’s outing in which he gave up 10 runs on eight hits, while on Saturday, Thomas will be looking for his elusive first win of the season. He is posting a team-best 1.64 ERA and four strikeouts.
Against the Bulls, Illinois will bring to the mound right-handed pitcher Jake Toohey, who had a 1-4 record, a 3.60 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 2005. Western Carolina will bring right-handed pitcher Brian McCullen, who is winless in 2006 and has a 4.50 ERA and four strikeouts.
Keep an eye on: senior Kris Howell. Howell is USF’s hottest hitter with a team-high .367 batting average and a six-game hit streak, which is a career high. In his first game of the season, the senior was held hitless, but he has gone 11-for-30 since, including two RBI and a 4-for-5 performance earlier this week.
– Mike Camunas