The results weren’t exactly what he wanted, but South Florida softball coach Ken Eriksen was OK with that.
USF (6-4) went 2-3 this weekend, including two losses to No. 12 Arizona, but despite the defeats, Eriksen said he learned a lot about his team this weekend.
“We learned we could play with anyone in the country,” he said. “It’s a big confidence boost for them that we had a chance to win both games against Arizona.”
The Bulls lost 7-2 on Friday and 6-4 on Saturday to the Wildcats.
On Friday, USF trailed 2-1 in the bottom half of the sixth, but freshman Laura Fountain hit an RBI triple to score junior pinch runner Lauren Rodriguez. However, Fountain was stranded at third, and the Bulls were unable to put the Wildcats away.
Arizona scored five runs in extra innings — with the big blow coming from senior Sam Banister’s grand slam. Banister had a two-run double in the first inning en route to six RBIs.
The Bulls, trailing 2-0 on Saturday, tied in the fourth inning when junior catcher Cat Olnick hit a two-run double.
“As I went up to bat, Ashley (Bullion) told me to hit it over the fence,” Olnick said. “It was a really good hit and it sparked our team.”
However, the tie was short-lived. Arizona catcher Stacie Chambers hit an RBI single to give the Wildcats a 3-2 lead. Arizona then added three runs in the top of the seventh inning to win the game.
Despite picking up the loss, Eriksen said he was pleased with freshman pitcher Candace Howell’s performance on the mound.
“(Howell) is a pretty good pitcher,” Eriksen said. “We have five good pitchers on this team and they all complement each other very well. They’re going to keep us in games this year.”
South Florida finished the weekend with wins against Hofstra and Marshall after suffering a loss to Illinois on Friday.
“This is a relentless group with a good attitude, and they’re not going to settle for second best,” Eriksen said.