USF heads to Daytona for doubleheader

When the season began, the USF softball team wasn’t scheduled to play today’s doubleheader against Bethune-Cookman.

Coach Ken Eriksen scheduled the games because the Bulls have been hurt by the cancellation of three games in the last 11 days. USF was only able to play one game of a scheduled three-game series against St. John’s in Queens, N.Y., during the last weekend in March due to poor weather that made the field unplayable.

USF (22-15, 4-0) was scheduled to play against No. 5 Florida in Gainesville on March 29, but rain canceled that game, leaving the Bulls with a shortage of competitive games.

For those reasons, Eriksen scheduled this doubleheader against the Wildcats (15-20, 3-0 MEAC) in Daytona Beach.

Though the offense has been productive, scoring 4.86 runs per game, USF has been carried this season by a powerful quartet of starting pitchers.

Freshman pitcher Sara Nevins was named Big East Pitcher of the Week on Monday in recognition of her weekend efforts against Syracuse. It was Nevins’ first time receiving the award.

Nevins improved to 9-5 with a 2.31 ERA by picking up two wins against the Orange. Nevins also collected her fifth save. On Sunday, Nevins lost a no-hitter bid with just two outs remaining on a double, the only hit she surrendered.

Junior Lindsey Richardson has started 13 games, going 7-5 with a 3.33 ERA. Two of her five losses came against the highly ranked Gators.

Redshirt junior Capri Catalano and junior Brittany Bowles are the only other two Bulls to start a game for USF. Catalano is 2-3, while Bowles is 4-2 with a 2.95 ERA.

“We’ve done a pretty good job hitting the ball this year, so our hitters are giving our pitchers a great opportunity to get comfortable,” Eriksen said. “(Nevins) has done a great job of stepping up pretty well. Lindsey Richardson is another great pitcher that has stepped up also.”

Because he has four reliable pitchers to choose from, Eriksen will pick the starter based on matchups presented by the opponents’ offensive lineup. He said offensive production is one of Bethune-Cookman’s strengths, and the starter will be a game-time decision.

“They swing the bat,” Eriksen said. “They’re very aggressive. They’re going to come out on the first pitch and swing it and put the ball in play and run like crazy.”

Offensively, USF hopes freshman first baseman Stephanie Medina returns to the form that has earned her the Big East Player of the Week award twice already this season. Medina is currently in a slump – going 1-for-7 in the Syracuse series with five strikeouts – though the one hit was a two-RBI single that helped USF win the opening game 3-1.

The first pitch of game one is scheduled for 12:15 p.m., with game two to follow at 2 p.m.