The No. 25 South Florida softball team played with their backs against the wall in three out of four games against No. 21 DePaul University and Notre Dame University. The Bulls went 3-1 against two of the top four teams in the Big East conference.
The Bulls split games against DePaul on Friday and swept Notre Dame in two come-from-behind victories to stay at No. 1 in the Big East conference.
Coach Ken Eriksen said teamwork was key.
“Notre Dame can swing the bat,” Eriksen said. “They’re a good team, and for us to do the things we were able to do today I’m really proud of the girls.”
The Bulls (39-14, 14-2) defeated the Fighting Irish (29-15, 9-5) 5-2 and 8-4.
Senior pitcher Courtney Mosch, sophomore Kristen Gordon, and freshman Capri Catalano made appearances in both games against Notre Dame. The pitching staff gave up 30 hits in six games against its last three opponents. Against the Blue Demons and the Fighting Irish, the Bulls gave up 29 hits in four games.
“Our pitching staff might not have been the sharpest it’s ever been this year,” Eriksen said. “However, the hitters were able to come up and do the things they had to do. That’s called teamwork, and if we can just keep it going I’ll be happy.”
Down 2-1 in game two against Notre Dame, sophomore third baseman Allison Savarese hit a two RBI single, scoring senior outfielder Kit Dunbar and freshman pinch runner Merrill Robinson to give the Bulls a 3-2 lead.
With the bases loaded in the fourth inning, sophomore catcher Cat Olnick hit the first grand slam of her career and her third home run of the season to extend the lead for the Bulls.
“I was just trying to make contact – trying to get the ball in play. I thought it was great. I never hit a grand slam in college before,” Olnick said.
Olnick finished the weekend with five hits, two runs and 8 RBI.
“(Olnick) has been working her tail off the last three weeks about getting her batting average back,” Eriksen said. “The only way you can get it back is by seeing the ball. Her hard work paid off.”
The Fighting Irish were able to load the bases and score two runs in the sixth inning to rally.
“They’re tough,” Olnick said. “The pitchers were good – they worked the outside part of the plate really well – but we made adjustments and scored runs.”
Mosch came in relief, shutting out Notre Dame in the final inning.
With game one tied at 2-2 in the sixth inning, senior pinch hitter Laura Wolf hit an RBI sacrifice bunt, scoring sophomore pinch runner Lauren Rodriguez and opening the door for the Bulls to score three more runs.
“(Wolf) is a battler – anything that you ever need from her she’s going to do. She’s clutch,” Eriksen said.
Despite losing 6-3 to DePaul (33-14, 9-5) in game one Friday, the Bulls were able to bounce back and defeat the Blue Demons 5-1.
Catalano pitched a complete game against the Blue Demons, extending her winning streak on the mound to 12-0 and five saves on the season.
“It was a good weekend you had four of the top five teams battling it out this weekend with each other and we ended up 3-1. I thought we played pretty good,” Erisken said. “Two comeback victories.”