USF ready to return home

For just the second time since hosting the USF Invitational from Feb. 18-19, the USF softball team will be playing a home game in the confines of their own state-of-the-art stadium

USF will pair off against Central Michigan today at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the USF Softball Stadium, a venue coach Ken Eriksen said offers a sense of luxury and comfort.

“You know, it’s always going to be a magnificent place to play,” he said. “It’s like walking into the Taj Mahal every day. It’s always comfortable, it’s always routine. Eating lunch at your own house, having practice at your own house, playing ball games at your own house, gives you a sense of comfort.”

Eriksen’s team has gained some national attention for its 13-4 start to the season, reaching as high as No. 23 in the national rankings before two losses in last weekend’s Under Armor Invitational tournament dropped them out.

“Our game is played in 56 games,” he said. “It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon … In all four games that we’ve dropped, you know, if you think about it, we dropped two extra-inning ball games, with the winning run on base in both. In our two regulation losses, we had the winning run on base during the final at-bat.”

Along with their national attention as a team, the Bulls have also garnered some individual attention. Sophomore pitcher Sara Nevins was named the Big East pitcher of the week last Monday for her success in the NFCA tournament from Feb. 24-26, pitching 16 innings and handing out 23 strikeouts.

“Recognizable teams have unrecognizable players,” Eriksen said. “We’re doing a good job putting W’s on the board. You could have a pitcher like Nevins, but if your team is 0-15 you won’t get any attention. It’s about winning.”

The Bulls will look to bounce back after two tough losses to Loyola Marymount on Saturday and Miami (Ohio) on Sunday. The losses were by a combined three runs.

“When you look at it, I mean, we’re right in all four of our losses, so that tells you that we have some heart and we have some battle,” Eriksen said. “We can’t wait to tee it up (against Central Michigan).”