USF pushes No. 2 Florida to extra innings on opening weekend

The USF softball team started its 2012 campaign on the right foot, with three consecutive wins and an extra-inning loss to No. 2 Florida over the weekend.

The Bulls (3-1) were picked to finish fifth in the Big East Softball Preseason Poll and showed they have the talent to hang with one of the nation’s best teams. In front of a stadium-record 1,261 fans, the Bulls and Gators battled in a pitchers duel Sunday that would eventually go into extra innings tied at 1-1.

“That was a great softball game to watch,” coach Ken Eriksen said.

USF sophomore Sara Nevins pitched against Florida freshman Lauren Haeger, with each pitcher matching her counterpart pitch for pitch the entire game.

Nevins pitched 7.1 innings with three strikeouts and

limited the Gator offense to only five hits. Florida scored a single run in the first inning and would not score again until the eighth inning. The Bulls answered the Gator’s offensive output an inning later with a one out RBI double by senior backstop Laura Fountain.

USF fell behind again in the eighth inning, when UF’s Kelsey Horton hit a two-run homerun to put the Gators ahead 3-1.

The Bulls answered with one run in the bottom of the frame from a RBI single from Gina Kafalas, but fell short of extending the game to a ninth inning.

“It’s good to get games under your belt so your girls can get reps and get into game situations,” Eriksen said. “I was pretty happy with the response of what went on.”

The Bulls’ season-opener against Maine on Friday also marked the debut of standout freshman right-hander Sam Greiner.

Greiner would toss six scoreless innings in her first career start while striking out eight and only allowing three hits. The Bulls defeated the Black Bears 8-1 to earn their first win of the season.

Greiner also relieved Nevins in the final inning of the game against Florida, getting the final two outs without allowing any hits.

In a tournament plagued by weather issues, the Bulls also managed a 4-2 win over Florida Gulf Coast on Friday, with Nevins picking up the win, and a 10-2 five-inning win over Long Island State on Saturday, with Lindsey Richardson earning the win after not allowing any runs in 4.1 innings pitched.

With a 3-1 record in hand, the Bulls are off until games against Drake on Friday, Wisconsin and Arkansas on Saturday and Georgia Southern on Sunday – all at the USF Softball Stadium.