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USF caught in scoring controversy, goes 4-1

The USF softball team proved this weekend that it’s possible to win a game without any hits.

Or, depending who you ask, maybe it didn’t.

What isn’t up for dispute is that the Bulls beat Mississippi State 1-0 in a tight pitchers’ duel Friday night in Clearwater.

When the game ended, the Bulls officially had two hits to their record: a Gina Kafalas bunt single that was thrown into her back as she reached first base and was signaled safe and a Kenshyra Jackson rocket that shot through the third baseman’s legs and into left field.

Shortly after, the game’s official scorer, a Mississippi State Athletics employee, notified USF that the hits had officially been changed to errors and Bulldogs pitcher Stephanie Becker was credited a no-hitter in a 1-0 loss.

USF appealed the decision to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) and NCAA, but was denied, so the hits were officially stricken from the record. Kaitlyn Santo scored USF’s lone run on Kafalas’ bunt single/error.

“We haven’t (won a game with no hits), ever,” coach Ken Eriksen said. “We still haven’t done it. We had two hits against Mississippi State and that’s what I know as a coach. We had two hits. … Anybody in Major League Baseball would take a look at (Jackson’s hit) and say, ‘You gave me an error on that? You’re out of your mind.'”

Carried by their strong pitching staff and timely hitting, the Bulls (10-2) went 4-1 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic, notching an 8-0 win over Illinois, the 1-0 win over Mississippi State and a pair of wins over Illinois State, 6-3 and 1-0, as well as a 5-3 loss to Boston University.

Jackson, in the lineup as the designated player, drove in five runs over the weekend, including a two-run double in the seventh inning against the Redbirds that helped the Bulls overturn a late 3-2 deficit.

“She’s a ball player,” Eriksen said. “You watch her and you go, ‘What does that kid look like?’ She walks out on the field and doesn’t look like a ball player. She gets a bat in her hand, takes a practice swing and you say, ‘She doesn’t look like a hitter,’ but she’s a hacker. She’s a dangerous hitter because she has no fear. No fear of striking out lends itself to a lot of great things. She’s phenomenal.”

A junior transfer from Polk State College, Jackson was an immediate fit in the lineup, leading the Bulls in RBIs with nine.

“I’m having a lot of fun,” Jackson said. “It’s a big, big step up from where I was, but coach (Eriksen) has so much faith in all of us.”

The Bulls host their first midweek game of the season Wednesday against Michigan at 5 p.m. at the USF Softball Stadium.