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Softball’s saintly sweep

USF- 3, St. John’s- 2

Perseverance and patience.

With those two words, USF softball coach Ken Eriksen summed up his team’s 3-2, 11-inning victory over St. John’s University on Sunday.

Those games followed another two-game sweep of Seton Hall (16-18, 0-6) on Friday.

“Well, it was a lot of perseverance and patience,” Eriksen said. “We were trying to get a hold of some pretty good pitching, and (left fielder) Carly Griffin caught a good pitch.”

The good pitch Eriksen referred to came in the bottom of the 11th inning when Griffin hit a solo shot over the left- field fence to record her fifth home run of the season in walk-off fashion.

“I was just trying to get on base,” Griffin said of her game-winning at-bat. “I was trying to stay relaxed at the plate. Coach was saying to keep the ball on the ground, and truthfully, I was trying to swing down.”

Griffin might have tried to swing down, but the ball went out of the park, securing a Bulls sweep of their doubleheader against the Red Storm and giving them a 4-0 record to start Big East play.

“She had been swinging hard all day,” Eriksen said. “One thing that Carly did (in the doubleheader) was not take a lot of pitches. She was very aggressive early in the count and very aggressive late in the count, and once you put the bat on the ball, good things can happen, and that was an ideal showing right there.”

After defeating St. John’s (20-16) 2-0 in the first game, USF (32-18) found itself trailing the Red Storm by one run twice in Game 2. However, the Bulls persevered, battling back to tie the game both times thanks to an RBI by both Griffin and freshman Ashley Bullion.

“I think we did a great job today,” Griffin said. “They came back (in the second game), and we bounced back as a team. I think it was a team effort the whole game.”

While Griffin’s walk-off home run was the highlight of the day, the most impressive all-around performance was the play of the USF pitching staff.

After pitching a shutout and allowing only three hits in the first game, sophomore Bree Spence (14-6) was called upon once again in the eighth inning of the second game to relieve junior Kasey Cash. The right-hander came in and, after a shaky start, pitched the final four innings of the game, allowing one hit and no runs.

“The first inning (I came in) was a little rough,” Spence said. “I got a little upset when I hit one girl, and then another girl stuck her foot out (in front of a pitch) and I was like, ‘Oh, goodness,’ but it turned out pretty well, so I’m happy.”

After the game, Eriksen praised the play of his pitching staff.

“(Bree Spence) is a workhorse, and her and Christi Ecks do a great job of what we call ‘ham and egging it,'” Eriksen said. “They complement each other very well, and our bullpen’s been pretty good. Kasey Cash came in twice today and got two big outs for us, so if we get that type of pitching and we get some pretty solid defense, then we have an opportunity to win.”

Ecks (13-9) pitched 6 2/3 innings in the second game and allowed four hits and one run, while Cash (1-2) earned her third save of the season after relieving Spence in the first game.