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Softball sweeps Providence, postponed in Connecticut

The softball team continued its late-season surge with a doubleheader sweep of Providence College on Sunday.

After Saturday’s doubleheader against Connecticut was postponed due to rain, the Bulls (36-18, 6-0 Big East) defeated Providence 8-2 and 3-2 at Raymond Field to stay undefeated in the Big East and increase their winning streak to nine games.

Pitcher Bree Spence (16-6) was happy with the wins, which came on the Bulls’ first conference road trip of the season. The sophomore right-hander pitched all seven innings of the second game, allowing five hits and two runs.

USF- 8, PC- 2

“Every time you get a win it’s going to build confidence,” Spence said. “We’re definitely playing tough teams now, because everyone in the conference is well rounded and good, so it definitely makes me feel good (to win).”

Spence also feels that the Bulls, who were 12-12 before winning 24 of their past 30 games, are peaking at the right time.

“I think we’re peaking right when we need to peak,” Spence said. “If we would have peaked in the middle of the season, then we would have just plateaued and not won the games that we really needed to win, so I think we’re doing fine.”

Coach Ken Eriksen is pleased with the success of his team. The 10th-year coach attributes the team’s early season inconsistency to bad breaks and hopes the Bulls will continue their winning ways as they approach May and the postseason.

“Well, you know, I hope we haven’t really hit our stride yet,” Eriksen said. “I hope we hit our stride toward the middle of May, to tell you the truth. I just think right now that we’re beginning to get some better bounces. We had some tough breaks in the beginning of the year, and it’s just been kind of a story of perseverance, and now things just seem to be bouncing our way a little bit.”

With the exception of Wednesday’s game against UCF, all but one of USF’s remaining games will be against conference teams. With some of the Bulls’ remaining opponents including Big East powerhouses No. 21 Louisville, No. 23 DePaul and Notre Dame, Eriksen is hoping his team can continue to play like it has for the past few weeks.

“I don’t think any games from here on out, UCF included this Wednesday, are going to be easy,” Eriksen said. “So, you’ve got to get those three facets working at the same time – pitching, defense and hitting – and in the recent little streak we’ve had going here, I think we’re getting those three things.”

Senior Krista Holle went 2-for-4 at the plate and had four RBI in the first game, and senior Christie Chapman went 2-for-4 and brought in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning of the second game with an RBI single down the right-field line. Freshman Cristi Ecks (15-9) earned the win in Game 1, allowing zero runs on five hits.

With the winning streak, Eriksen said the team has been pushing itself to be better.

“Our aggressiveness seems to be getting better,” Eriksen said, “and I think if you’re aggressive, you can make things happen, and that’s really been the storyline.”