After winning four of its past five games, USF (7-13) is starting to find a groove, players say.
The Bulls, who won their first series of the season last weekend, will look to stay hot at Red McEwen Field tonight as they take on North Florida (11-10) at 7.
“We need to build off of this and keep the momentum going,” said junior catcher Eric Sim after Sunday’s 13-4 victory against Mercer in the rubber match of a three-game series.
Senior lefty Teddy Kaufman, named the Big East’s Pitcher of the Week on Monday, will go for his third straight win on the mound. Kaufman was also named as one of four Louisville Slugger’s National Player’s of the Week after his performance against UCF on Tuesday, when he struck out 14 batters in a complete-game shutout.
Last year, USF and UNF split their season series, with each team winning at home. The overall series record is knotted at 3-3. But USF coach Lelo Prado said he thinks his team is turning things around with defense, strong pitching and timely hitting.
“The results are there, and we’re starting to play better baseball,” he said.
The team continues to play without sophomore shortstop Sam Mende (broken jaw), one of the team’s best players from last season, for at least the next three weeks. The key for USF will be providing Kaufman with run-support early, Prado said, which starts with the top of the order getting on base.
In USF’s latest win, leadoff hitter Ryan Lockwood and second hitter Jonathan Koscso went a combined 4-for-6.
“It will always change, but (Lockwood) is our ideal leadoff guy, and if he does his job, then we’ll be pretty good to start off games,” Prado said.