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Bulls edged out

After a 5-1 loss to Louisville Friday night in the Big East tournament semifinals, the softball team’s hopes for making the NCAA tournament were cut short.

The loss ended an overall successful season for the Bulls, who finished with a record of 44-22. “I’d say the season was pretty good,” coach Ken Eriksen said. “Of course, we would have liked to have won the Big East tournament and locked up a spot in the NCAA tournament, but that’s the way it goes. We won 70 percent of our last 30 games, and we showed that we have some young players who can play this year.”The Bulls had a shot at the tournament going into selection Sunday, but fell short of qualifying.

“We played pretty well, but it just didn’t happen,” Eriksen said. “We left it up to the selection committee and this time we ended up on the wrong side of the tracks.” In the quarterfinal game against Pittsburgh, the Bulls were able to get a 2-1 victory, thanks to the pitching combination of Cristi Ecks and Kristen Gordon. Ecks started the game striking out 10 and allowing only one run on two hits in 6 1/3 innings. Gordon came on in relief and recorded the victory on the stat sheet. Against the Cardinals, the combination of Ecks and Gordon was not as effective as it had been the day before. USF jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning when they scored on an error by Cardinals shortstop Courtney Moore. In the third, Louisville rallied with two outs to take a 2-1 lead, ending the day for Ecks. Louisville was able to add three insurance runs with two home runs off Kristen Gordon in the seventh inning.

The Bulls were able to get a runner on in the seventh but failed to capitalize as Cardinal pitcher Kristen Wadwell finished off the Bulls and collected a game victory.

Despite the disappointing loss, the future holds promise for the Bulls. The team will return 21 of the 24 players on its current roster.

“I think we’re in good shape,” Eriksen said. “We had a lot of young players start this year. Next year we’ll have 74 percent of the starting team come back so we’ll have some experience and maturity to move on with.”