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Panthers due up for Bulls


Pittsburgh (27-20, 8-6) at USF (39-18, 8-0); Syracuse (29-16, 11-3) at USF

When: Today, 2 and 4 p.m.; Sunday, Noon and 2 p.m.

Where: USF Softball Complex

The story: The USF softball team is looking to stay undefeated in the Big East when it hosts Pittsburgh in a conference doubleheader at the USF softball complex. The Bulls will return to the field Sunday to host another Big East doubleheader against Syracuse.

Despite already setting the school record for wins in a season, Pittsburgh has struggled lately.

The Panthers have lost seven of their last nine games and fell to 8-6 in the Big East after dropping doubleheaders to conference rivals DePaul and Notre Dame.

Pittsburgh is fifth in the Big East and needs a strong performance from senior Francesca DiMaria and sophomore Jessica Digon if it hopes to knock off the conference-leading Bulls.

DiMaria is leading the Panthers in batting average (.356) and is second in hits (52) this season, while Digon has a team-high 28 RBI and 58 hits, and is second behind DiMaria in batting average (.351).

After starting the season 0-5, Syracuse has turned its season around in the last couple of months.

The Orange have won 20 of their last 23 games and compiled a conference record of 11-3, placing them third in the Big East.

The next few games are critical for Syracuse, which faces No. 21 Louisville in a doubleheader today before taking on USF on Sunday.

Keep an eye on: Syracuse senior Alexis Switenko. The shortstop/pitcher has been an ace for the Orange this season, compiling an 11-2 record and posting a 2.24 ERA. Despite her contribution in the circle, Switenko might be most valuable to the Orange when she’s at the plate. The senior is leading her team in almost every offensive category this season including batting average (.398), hits (51), RBI (35) and on-base percentage (.487). Switenko also helped her team break the Syracuse record for home runs in a season by hitting 15 this year, six more than the next closest Orangeman.

– Eric Moeller