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Bulls open conference play with two doubleheaders

Freshman Kristen Gordon is 9-4 with a team-high 125 strikeouts. ORACLE FILE PHOTO/MARLOW GUM

With the softball team opening Big East play in the friendly confines of the USF Softball Field, coach Ken Eriksen is worried about winning the first game of the doubleheader against Rutgers.The Scarlet Knights make the trip with a 10-18 record, but Eriksen isn’t fooled at all.

“This team could easily be 18-10 at this point in the season,” Eriksen said. “That’s how good this team is. They have played a pretty good schedule so far.”

Eriksen has stressed to his team about not giving Rutgers extra outs, compared to the extra outs that were given to teams during non-conference play. Rutgers has six hitters with 10 or more RBI and is the kind of team that will make USF pay for bad defense.

“I think the emphasis on flawless defense is going to be the key, and not giving them extra opportunities,” Eriksen said. “People are going to get their hits, but if we can avoid the walks and errors, I think we give ourselves the opportunities to get some victories.”

The Bulls get no rest after the doubleheader with Rutgers, as Big East foe Villanova makes its way to Tampa on Sunday. The Wildcats bring with them ace Laura Determan, who is 9-4 with a 1.81 ERA and 108 strikeouts.

“She’s tough, but they are going to have to face Kristen Gordon or (Courtney) Mosch, so there are tradeoffs,” Eriksen said. “The bottom line is that the team that makes the least amount of mistakes this weekend is the team that will come away with the victories.”

In the doubleheader against Rutgers, the first 250 fans to the game will receive a USF softball pennant. On Sunday, the first game of the doubleheader against Villanova will be televised live on Catch 47.

Keep an eye on: freshman pitcher Gordon. She leads the Bulls with nine victories and is first in strikeouts (125) and innings pitched (93 1/3 innings). Gordon is third on the team with a 1.12 ERA and has four complete-game victories.