With the wind blowing in and a hard-throwing left-hander on the mound, the women’s softball team struggled offensively, losing the championship match-up in The Game Tournament 2-1 to the Alabama-Birmingham Blazers Sunday at the USF Softball Field. The defeat was the team’s second tournament loss this season.
The Bulls defeated Alabama-Birmingham 4-2 Saturday, but didn’t have the same success at the plate Sunday. USF (11-6) left eight runners on base in Sunday’s loss, including leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth inning.
“It was just bad luck and it just wasn’t our day,” coach Ken Eriksen said. “How many balls did we hit hard today? With the wind blowing in, we had the right combination in the lineup; we just didn’t get the bounces, either.”
Cristi Ecks had a solid performance on the mound for the Bulls, allowing two runs on four hits in seven innings with nine strikeouts and no walks. The Blazers took advantage of the only scoring opportunity they had.
Lindsay Stanley and Holly Krzan hit consecutive singles to open the fourth inning and moved up on an outfield throw between second and third base that dribbled through the infield. With one out, Nicole Tumlin singled to right field, driving in both runners to give the Blazers a 2-1 lead.
“They hit the ball; that’s all I can say,” Ecks said. “There are a couple of pitches I might have thrown a little better, but ithappens.”
Alabama-Birmingham (9-6) starter Jennifer Nelson was shaky initally, but settled in and kept the Bulls off-balance at the plate. Nelson scattered five hits and one run over seven innings, mixing up her off-speed pitches with her fastball and forcing many groundball outs.
USF jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, manufacturing the first run of the game. Junior Aya Nakajima led off with a walk and Britta Giddens laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Nakajima to second. Danielle Urbanik followed with a single up the middle to score Nakajima.
USF had a bases-loaded, one-out rally in the bottom of the fifth inning when Nakajima was hit by a pitch and moved to second by Giddens. Urbanik followed with a walk and JoJo Medina singled. Courtney Mosch, however, struck out looking and pinch runner Melissa Rosas was forced out at third on Cat Olnick’s fielder’s choice.
“That was huge, to not get any runs in that inning,” Mosch said. “With the bases loaded, I was just trying to get something on the ground and try to get a run across.”
Even though Mosch didn’t get a hit in the championship game, she was responsible for one of the four victories on Friday and Saturday. In the first game of the tournament, Mosch hit her second game-winning home run in a 3-2 victory over Eastern Michigan.
“I don’t think we’ve done anything yet; we are just building and building,” Mosch said. “These games are important, but we are building for the Big East and that’s what these games are for.”
The Bulls finished Friday with an 8-1 victory over Drake and followed on Saturday with two victories over Alabama-Birmingham and Eastern Michigan.