Bulls look to extend winning streak

SOFTBALL GAME TIMEStetson (37-20,11-8) at USF (39-14,14-2)When: Today, 4 p.m.Where: USF Softball ComplexTV/Radio: None

The South Florida softball team is on a three-game winning streak since losing to DePaul on Friday. The Bulls will look to extend their winning streak to four against in-state rival Stetson University today at home.

Two of the last four home games of the season for the Bulls (39-14, 14-2) will be against the Hatters (37-20, 11-8).

The Bulls lead the all-time series 42-6. However, they lost to the Hatters 2-1 last season.

Junior pitcher Erica Demers held the Bulls to five hits and struck out four hitters in the loss.

Despite Stetson being a non-conference opponent, assistant coach Amber Wright said the Bulls must maintain their focus on defeating the Hatters.

“They have to stay mentally focused and treat Stetson like they’re Notre Dame and DePaul, and (believe) that all teams are equal and bring their best game to the field,” Wright said.

The Hatters are sixth in the Atlantic Sun Conference and split games with the University of North Florida last weekend with the help of Demers, who pitched a three-hit shutout, defeating the Ospreys 1-0.

Sophomore catcher Cat Olnick is the sixth player to receive Big East honors for the Bulls this season.

Olnick finished the weekend against DePaul and Notre Dame with eight RBIs and two home runs – including her first career grand slam against the Fighting Irish in an 8-4 victory.

“Pretty much every one of our players can come in and get the game-winning run, hit the game-winning run,” Wright said. “There’s not a weak spot in our lineup, and it’s been a fun season for that reason.”

The Bulls’ only loss in eight games came against DePaul on Friday. The Bulls gave up four errors, including two that scored six runs for the Blue Demons in the 6-3 loss.

“Our defense will score. The key is to play flawless defense,” Wright said. “If we keep the errors down, then our team will end up on top.”

The Bulls jumped two spots to No. 23 in the Ultimate College Softball Coaches Poll. The Bulls received their first ranking of the season at No. 25 last week after defeating conference rivals Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

“It’s a nice accolade,” Wright said. “It’s nice to have some recognition, but it doesn’t change the mentality of our team.”

The Bulls pitching staff goes into Wednesday’s doubleheader leading the Big East in team pitching with a 1.32 ERA. Freshman pitcher Capri Catalano leads all pitchers with a 0.91 ERA, tied with teammate Courtney Mosch for the most saves in the conference at five.

“If we keep playing consistent defense the way we’ve been playing, and our pitching stays consistent the way it’s been, we’ll have two W’s at the end of the night,” Wright said.