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Jackson blasts walk-off winner as Bulls top UMass

If the rally cap isn’t already a part of the USF softball uniform, it may just become a requirement before this season is over. The Bulls found walk-off magic once again Monday night, this time in their 2-1 win over Massachusetts.

Just one game after taking down No. 21 Florida State, USF won again in dramatic fashion. This time, the victory came on a solo home run off the bat of Kenshyra Jackson, who slammed a rocket past the left field fence to deliver the Bulls their 25th win and 16th home win of the season.

But the win wasn’t an easy one. The Bulls’ hopes were growing weary in the bottom of the seventh inning, as first baseman Stephanie Medina was at the plate down to her final strike. Yet Medina didn’t have to do much work to tie the game.

Massachusetts pitcher Sara Plourde, who was just one pitch from sealing her 11th win of the season and her 14th complete game, threw a wild pitch that scored D’Anna Devine to tie the game before Medina struck out to send the game to extra innings.

“I told D’Anna before that last pitch, you can ask her, I said, ‘Watch out for the wild pitch,’ and the very next pitch it happened,” coach Ken Eriksen said.

The Bulls had their back to the wall once again in the top of the eighth inning, when the Minutewomen loaded the bases with just one out. USF freshman Sam Greiner got the Bulls out of the jam by forcing Anna Kelley to ground into an inning-ending double play.

“When you have the bases loaded with a pitcher like Sam, you feel like it’ll be a double play every time,” Eriksen said. “You want to get a ground ball, and we got fortunate by getting it with the catcher and first baseman.”

The stellar defense brought up Jackson, who stepped up to the plate to give USF its first extra inning victory of the season. With the crowd on its feet, Jackson delivered with the solo shot for the Bulls’ second consecutive walk-off victory and their third of the season.

“I just wanted to get to third,” Jackson said of her hit. “I didn’t know it was a home run until coach started pointing and I saw all the girls running over to home base.”

USF will be back home Wednesday for a doubleheader against Hartford and North Texas at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively – their final games before conference play begins.

“Coach says we have a swagger to our step, but he also said that we only have an hour and a half to celebrate this win, then we have to move on,” Jackson said.