Softball travels north to battle Big East rivals
SOFTBALL GAME TIMEUSF (29-12, 4-0) at Rutgers (11-17,1-3)When: Sat., NoonWhere: Rutgers Softball ComplexTV/Radio: None
Winning conference openers at home against Seton Hall University and St. John’s University helped the USF softball team become No.1 in the Big East – tied with the University of Louisville.
However, the Bulls won’t have the comforts of the warm Florida weather this weekend, when they travel north for a pair of doubleheaders against conference rivals Rutgers and Villanova University.
USF (29-12) won its last three games against Rutgers. The Bulls defeated the Scarlet Knights 8-4 last season with the help of junior second baseman Britta Giddens, who led the team with four RBI and a grand slam – the first of her career.
The Scarlet Knights are led by freshman first baseman Mandy Craig, who has 16 RBI for the season and is second on her team in batting with a .316 average.
The Bulls will end the weekend with a doubleheader against a Villanova team that is coming off of a 12-3 victory against Delaware.
The Wildcats scored seven runs in the fifth inning with the help of sophomore second baseman Jess O’Boyle, who started the seven-run rally.
Both Rutgers and Villanova are 1-3 in the conference. Despite USF’s success against past conference opponents with poor records, such as St. John’s and Seton Hall, coach Ken Eriksen said the Big East is a tough conference full of teams that will compete every time they take the field.
The Bulls’ pitching staff will be down one player this weekend, as junior Cristi Ecks will stay in Tampa to recuperate at University Community Hospital after collapsing at practice Tuesday.
Ecks is second on the team with 102 strikeouts and third in the conference, one behind freshman teammate Capri Catalano.
The longest undefeated streak to start conference play was 9-0 in 2006. The Bulls will look to extend their 4-0 streak in the Big East on Saturday.