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Softball sweeps Rhode Island

With the softball team’s offense managing just 10 runs in its previous four games, the starting pitchers ensured Tuesday’s sweep over Rhode Island.

Courtney Mosch and Kristen Gordon combined for 13 innings, 14 strikeouts and allowed only one run while helping USF improve to 26-14 on the season.

“I’ll take it, I’m happy,” coach Ken Eriksen said. “You can’t get much better pitching than that … if we can get production like this every night, we’ll win a lot of ballgames.”

Mosch, pitching for just the second time since missing over a week because of a kidney infection, recorded her team-high third shutout of the season.

A junior transfer from Syracuse, Mosch has already surpassed her shutout total from last season while dropping her ERA to a career low 1.27. She attributes her rapid improvement to a change of scenery from Syracuse’s Skytop Field.

“Playing in a dome can be the most frustrating thing in the world,” Mosch said. “Here with the warm weather has made me play even better. The best part is we don’t have to travel much in the beginning of the season.”

After the starting pitches kept the Rams (3-13) off the scoreboard, USF, with a four run second inning, gave Mosch enough of a boost to cruise to a 5-0 victory in the opening game of the afternoon.

“(An early lead) lets you experiment with pitches a little more,” Mosch said. “That was huge – it gives you so much confidence. We’ve lost some frustrating games earlier in the season and to get a win like this is just a release.”

With pitchers Bree Spence and Cristi Ecks experiencing mid-season fatigue, Mosch’s presence on the mound is essential for the Bulls to maintain their place atop the Big East standings.

“Coming off the sickness, it’s just good to get her back in rhythm now,” Eriksen said. “To get a start like this out of her tonight helps the entire pitching staff out. So we’re hoping she can continue to do that for the next couple of games.”

In the second contest, the Bulls used a five-run first inning to allow Gordon the same comfort Mosch enjoyed in the opener.

“When they scored quickly, that allowed me to relax and have some fun,” Gordon said.

“But I couldn’t stop pressing because you can never be too comfortable on the mound.”

Danielle Urbanik drove in a game-high three runs and increased her team-leading RBI total to 18. The first baseman improved her batting average to .361 and helped the Bulls to their first 10-run performance in 28 games.

Along with Urbanik, all nine starters in the Bulls lineup registered a hit in the night cap.

“We finally were able to string a bunch of hits together,” Urbanik said. “I was just glad to be able to hit more on the ground instead of popping it up. When you go for the big swing, that’s when you can’t get anything going.”

Although the final score was 10-1, the score doesn’t indicate how close the game actually was. With the Bulls leading 8-1 in the sixth inning, the Rams loaded the bases with no outs. Gordon struck out the next two hitters and forced a fly out to end the inning.

“(Struggles) are going to happen, that’s how it works,” Gordon said. “But you do your best to get through it. It could have been better.”

After dropping seven of their previous 14 contests, the Bulls were able to put their recent offensive struggles behind them.

“We had some good approaches at the plate tonight,” Eriksen said. “Every starter had a hit. It’s really important to have that consistency in your lineup. They’ve been working hard, and it’s paying off.”