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Bulls and Knights look to battle in the Swamp

SOFTBALL GAME TIMEUCF (46-18, 16-7) at USF (44-18, 18-5)When: Friday, 3:30 p.m.Where: Pressly Softball StadiumTV/Radio: None

Playing flawless softball, cutting down on walks and errors, and seeing the NCAA regional matchup against in-state rival Central Florida as just another game will determine how far the South Florida Bulls can go in the postseason, coach Ken Eriksen said.

For the first time since 2006, the Bulls will go to Gainesville to take on UCF in the first round of the NCAA regionals.

Despite a loss to DePaul in the Big East conference finals, senior pitcher Courtney Mosch feels positive the Bulls can bounce back and build from the loss.

“Playing a team like DePaul – they’re one of the top teams in the country – for us to be able to play against them and to see their type of pitching is huge,” Mosch said. “It will propel us into facing Florida and UCF and their incredible pitching.”

The Bulls were able to record five hits in the game against DePaul, but the only run of the game came in the seventh inning when senior pitcher Aya Nakajima hit an RBI single scoring sophomore third baseman Alison Savarese.

As a senior on the team, Mosch has been in playoffs not only at USF but also with Syracuse University, which she previously attended. She said she knows what the Bulls need to do to be successful against the Knights.

“We have to stick together, be consistent, and when people are on bases, moving those people to the next base and scoring,” Mosch said.

The Bulls have faced challenges and overcome large obstacles more than once this season. USF defeated two ranked teams, won the regular-season conference championship, and lost a teammate for the season.

Eriksen said the biggest challenge the team faced didn’t have to do with scoring runs or hitting the ball, but the life-or-death situation junior pitcher Cristi Ecks faced in practice.

“This is just a game,” Eriksen said.

The Bulls (44-18,18-5) won the last eight of nine games against the Knights (46-18, 16-7), with their only loss coming in 2006.

Knights senior pitcher Allison Kime struck out 11 Bulls as a junior, and held the Bulls to two hits and one run.

If the Bulls defeat the Knights, they will play the winner of the Florida and Georgia Tech game. The Bulls have faced both teams this season.