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Richardson paces USF to unbeaten weekend

Entering the weekend, the USF softball team’s goal was to win four games and sweep the USF Invitational. As it turned out, three victories were just as good.

After a rainstorm Friday wiped out the first day of the tournament and canceled the Bulls’ bout with Drake, USF won the three remaining games in the competition, moving its season record to 6-1.

USF was fueled by a nearly flawless weekend from pitcher Lindsey Richardson, who got the start in the final game of the tournament. Richardson pitched 11 total innings, allowing just three hits and one walk, and never allowed a runner to advance past first base. She was credited with all three wins as the Bulls beat Wisconsin 5-0 and Arkansas 7-6 on Saturday and Georgia Southern 2-0 on Sunday.

“Richardson keeps us in the ball game,” coach Ken Eriksen said. “She won (Sunday’s) first inning. After an energy day (Saturday), this could have been a trap game for us.”

Against the Badgers, the Bulls got timely hitting in the fourth and the sixth innings to win. Kourtney Salvarola belted an RBI double to take the lead, which the Bulls refused to relinquish after Jessica Mouse delivered a bunt single to score another run. The Bulls scored three more runs to open the tournament with a win.

“With Mouse coming along, this lineup is that much more potent,” Eriksen said. “Now, instead of us being strong one through five, it’s one through nine, and then you see production from (reserve Sydney) Dinelli, it’s strong one through 10. So it’s a good problem to have as a coach setting the lineup every game.”

USF’s victory celebration was short-lived, however, as its bout with the Razorbacks proved to be a more stressful affair.

Starting pitcher Sara Nevins worked 4.1 innings, giving up three runs before briefly giving way to both Brittany Bowles, who faced only one batter, and Sam Greiner, who saw three more runs cross the plate.

Richardson picked up the final out in a seventh inning that included an Arkansas rally to take the lead after being down to its final strike twice, before USF had a rally of its own after being down to its last strike.

A single from Stephanie Medina in the bottom of the seventh put the tying run on the bases. Stephanie Juergens pinch ran for Medina and scored on an RBI double by Salvarola. Kenshyra Jackson then hit a double down the left field line to score Salvarola and clinch the win.

“I was hoping it would stay fair, because I was just chugging,” Salvarola said. “She hit it solid. It was a great ball.”

Against the Eagles on Sunday, Richardson pitched six innings, dishing out nine strikeouts while allowing just two singles and a walk. Greiner finished the seventh inning with three straight strikeouts to earn the save.

Once again, the Bulls needed timely hitting and got it in the sixth inning, when a leadoff double from Janine Richardson turned into a bases-loaded, no-outs situation.

Mouse was again the woman of the moment, smashing an RBI double that gave the Bulls the 2-0 winning margin that finished the tournament undefeated.