It was a nearly “flawless” weekend in many aspects for the USF softball team.
The Bulls used defense, offense and pitching to open Big East play with a sweep over Seton Hall at the USF Softball Stadium, outscoring the Pirates 18-2 over three games.
“We had tough practices over the week to work on our defense and even took extra batting practice the day before the series started,” said Bulls leadoff hitter Janine Richardson. “Our coaches watched a lot of film, so we were prepared and knew what (Seton Hall) was going to bring to the table. It feels great to take care of business and get a sweep to start the Big East season.”
Once again, the Bulls (18-16, 3-0) received stellar pitching from freshman Lindsey Richardson, who lowered her ERA to 1.86 – a team best – after tossing two complete-game shutouts against the Pirates (7-17, 0-6).
“I have just been taking it one pitch, one out and one inning at a time,” Richardson said. “It is impossible to lose if we win every inning and every matchup, and my teammates have been playing great defense behind me whenever I take the ball.”
Richardson allowed no runs on five hits with one walk and four strikeouts in Friday’s 7-0 victory.
Her Saturday start went even easier, pitching five innings until the Bulls won 8-0 via the mercy rule – her eighth victory this season. She had six strikeouts while allowing only four hits and one walk.
Sophomore Brittany Bowles pitched in the nightcap of a doubleheader Friday. She went 6 2/3 innings, allowed two runs on three hits and struck out eight, picking up her fourth win of the season.
“It’s important to not think too much when you’re out there but to just throw and have fun,” Bowles said. “I thought back to the days when I was 9 years old and played with no pressure. I don’t try to strike everybody out – just try to hit my spots and get the other batters to hit into outs.”
Senior JoJo Medina’s long opposite field solo home run – her second of the season – backed Bowles as the Bulls won 3-2.
“I just swung my hardest and tried to hit the ball as far as I could for that at-bat,” Medina said. “I never swing for the fences but just try to make solid contact every time. Our flawless defense was what really earned us the sweep this weekend, though.”
USF did not commit an error, and its pitchers walked just three during the series.
“It’s huge when we don’t let other teams extend innings by making errors or walking hitters because it allows our pitchers to keep their pitch counts low,” said coach Ken Eriksen. “We want our pitchers to be as fresh as possible, which gives us the best chance to win, and we do that by playing lockdown defense.”