Softball splits tourney games
After pitching a complete-game shutout in the second half of a doubleheader Tuesday night against Robert Morris University, Bulls pitcher Kristen Gordon threw six shutout innings in the first game of a doubleheader Thursday night against Wagner at the adidas Invitational.
Gordon (5-1) allowed five hits and three walks, leading the Bulls (17-8) to a 4-0 victory.
“With coaches like this, you’re going to always improve,” Gordon said. “I expect that kind of performance from myself.”
Gordon struck out nine against Wagner (1-1), and her recent success can be attributed to her ability to get out of a jam. In each of her last two starts, she has struck out three straight batters to end the second inning.
With pitchers Courtney Mosch and Casey Cash out of the lineup, coach Ken Eriksen has realized how important Gordon is to his team.
“You can’t say enough about how much her effort does for us,” Eriksen said. “It says a lot about her toughness to come out here and throw a game like that after throwing over 70 pitches on Tuesday night.”
The Bulls’ offense struggled early in the first game, not scoring until the fourth inning when Britta Giddens scored on a sacrifice fly by Allison Savarese, who had a personal high of three RBI in the game.
In the sixth, the Bulls were able to add three more runs off an RBI double by JoJo Medina and a two-run home run by Savarese, her fourth of the season and third in as many games.
“I’ve been practicing on making my swing more compact,” Savarese said. “That’s my goal lately; just make contact with a good, compact swing.”
In the second game, the Bulls faced North Carolina (17-8) and pitcher Cristy Ecks started for USF, going 5 1/3 innings and allowing four hits and striking out six in a 2-1 loss to the Tar Heels.
After five shut out innings by Ecks, who has 58 strikeouts this season, the Tar Heels scored a run off an error by Bulls left fielder Aya Nakajima.
Bree Spence (3-2), in her second relief appearance of the day, reached the 300-strikeout mark for her career.
“It’s nice, but it would feel a lot better if we had won this game,” Spence said.
Spence finished off the fifth and retired to the side quickly in the sixth, allowing the Bulls to enter the seventh inning tied at one.
The Bulls loaded the bases after consecutive errors by North Carolina, but were unable to capitalize on the opportunity. In the bottom of the seventh, the Tar Heels scored the game-winning run on a double by first baseman Jennifer Jacobs.
“We came out of our game at the plate,” Eriksen said. “We got out of control and made a lot of mistakes that aren’t natural to us.
“I think it showed a lot of players on our team that you really have to step up and meet the challenges or you’re not going to make it at this level. I think there is going to be some reflection tonight on perseverance and we have to go back and recheck our approach right now.”