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Bulls get ‘aggressive,’ win doubleheader over Hoyas

After a 9-1 loss to the Florida Gators on March 1, USF softball coach Ken Eriksen was upset with his team’s passiveness. Three weeks later, the Bulls have turned that around.

USF (27-13, 6-2) continued to build on its recent home success with a doubleheader sweep of Georgetown, winning 6-1 and 4-1 at the USF Softball Field on Sunday.

“After the Florida game, I talked to the team about their lack of aggressiveness,” Eriksen said. “Since that meeting, we’ve taken the extra base and forced our opponents into mistakes. If we can maintain our aggressiveness through the rest of the season, I think good things will happen.”

After the loss to the Gators, the Bulls left with a 12-8 record. However, USF is 15-5 in its past 20 games and has won seven of its past eight at home.

In the opener against the Hoyas (5-18, 0-4), senior Cristi Ecks pitched 6 2/3 innings, giving up one run and striking out six.

“It was a tough game for us,” Ecks said. “Georgetown came out hitting, but our defense was good and that allowed me to pitch well.”

Ecks said the team’s offense has helped the pitching staff.

“Our offense has definitely been more aggressive lately,” she said. “We’ve run the bases well, and that’s how you win ball games.”

Junior catcher Cat Olnick led the Bulls with a two-run home run — her fourth of the year — but said she was just trying to put the ball in play.

“I was just looking to make contact with the ball,” she said. “It was good to put a couple runs on the board for the team, though.”

Eriksen said Olnick’s performance throughout the season has given the team a huge lift.

“(Olnick) was an animal in the gym last summer,” he said. “What is so impressive is that she’s able to catch every day and be productive offensively as well. She’s done a fantastic job with our dynamic pitching staff, and her hard work has really paid off.”

In game two, freshman Brittany Bowles pitched 4 1/3 innings, giving up one run. Junior Kristen Gordon came on in relief and struck out five in 2 1/3 innings. 

“I’ve been working a lot on my movement pitches, and it worked very well for me,” Gordon said. “I’m a little frustrated because I wasn’t able to finish the game, but my pitching is coming along well.”

Eriksen said he was pleased with the results, but the team still has work to do. As of Sunday, the Bulls are fourth in the Big East standings.

“We have to make up some ground in the Big East,” he said. “We have the capability to do that, though, if we continue to get the pitching performances we got (Sunday).”