Florida Tournament provides competition

Throughout the first three weeks of the season, the USF softball team had the home field advantage. This weekend, the Bulls hit the road for the first time this year.

USF (10-5) will travel to Gainesville to play in the University of Florida Tournament, facing tough competition in No. 2 Florida, Texas Tech, Illinois and Pacific.

“This weekend will be the first time we’re away from the friendly confines of the USF Softball Field,” said USF coach Ken Eriksen. “The biggest challenge for us, especially our freshmen, will be acclimating to a different environment.”

Despite the new setting, the Bulls will go into Gainesville with plenty of confidence, said senior second baseman Britta Giddens.

“This weekend is huge,” she said. “I believe it’s just as big as the Arizona weekend. We are going to face a lot of good teams this weekend and we’ll see what happens.”

USF didn’t fare well against then-No. 12 Arizona, losing two straight to the Wildcats, but junior designated hitter JoJo Medina said playing a team like Florida will be a good test for the Bulls. The Gators are 12-2 this season.

“It’s a big weekend for us,” she said. “It’s a good chance for us to go out and play against tough competition.”

The Bulls are coming off a 4-1 record at The Game Tournament last weekend. Giddens said the team will be prepared to face its toughest test yet.

“I’m expecting our team to come out with a lot of confidence,” she said. “We’re going to take the field like it’s any other day and if we can do that, we should do great this weekend.”

USF has already faced Illinois this year, losing 6-4 on Feb. 13. The Pacific is coming off a good weekend after winning four straight games. Eriksen said that despite the challenge the Bulls face, he wants them to stay focused.

“We cannot worry about the other teams in this tournament — just ourselves. If we are able to do that, we feel like we can win against anybody,” he said.