Bulls beat No. 5 Vols, fall to Eagles

No. 5 Tennessee 1, USF 4

Sunday’s double-header was a bittersweet day for the USF softball team in the USF Best Western Tournament. The Bulls defeated No. 5 Tennessee 4-1 but fell to Florida Gulf Coast University for the second time in two weeks.

Both USF and Tennessee played solid defense throughout their game. Bulls pitcher Courtney Mosch kept Tennessee’s explosive offense to four hits and no runs through five innings.

Sloppy pitching from Tennessee was costly for the Volunteers, as pitchers Megan Rhodes and Ashton Ward gave up a single to USF sophomore Britta Giddens, allowed three walks and threw a wild pitch that gave the Bulls a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning. The final two runs for the Bulls came in the sixth inning with hits from Giddens and Kit Dunbar, scoring Aya Nakajima and Kelly McCarver.

Cristi Ecks replaced Mosch in the fifth inning after Mosch gave up two walks and a double. However, with the bases loaded, Ecks walked Tennessee’s top hitter Tanya Callahan, giving the Volunteers their sole run of the game. Ecks regained her composure, retiring Tennessee’s first three hitters in both the sixth and seventh innings.

In the second game of the day, FGCU gave the Bulls their third loss of the season.

The Bulls were unable to find a pitching stride, going through three pitchers in the game. In the sixth inning, Ecks replaced freshman Capri Catalano and gave up two singles and a home run that put the Eagles in the lead, 2-0.

An RBI double from USF’s Laura Wolf put McCarver – representing the tying run – at the plate with two outs in the seventh inning. McCarver grounded out to end the game.

The Bulls started the tournament with a pair of wins against Mississippi and Florida A&M University. It wasn’t until the seventh inning of the Mississippi game that the Bulls’ offense began to take over.

Cat Olnick stepped up against Mississippi, and with the bases loaded scored three runs off of a 0-2 pitch to give the Bulls the 3-0 win.

“We had good at bats where we produced hits and others where we were able to be patient and draw a walk”, USF coach Ken Eriksen said in a press release. “Our players took what the pitcher was giving and a big win was the final result.”