What should have been a moment of exultation and ecstasy for USF softball fans Friday night was anything but as the crowd turned silent after a serious injury on the final play of the game.
In the second game of a three-game sweep of St. Johns, the Bulls and the Red Storm were tied at 1-1 entering the sixth inning. Then USFs bats awakened, scoring seven runs and giving the Bulls an 8-1 lead with one out and the bases
loaded, meaning one more run would end the game early via the run-rule.
Pinch hitter Allie Patierno hit a fly ball to left field which would have scored Gina Kafalas from third via a sacrifice fly and ended the game anyway and St. Johns left fielder Summer Comstock and center fielder Kristi Cady both gave chase before a nasty collision knocked the ball out of Comstocks glove, ending the game and injuring both players.
Comstock took the worst of the collision, needing about 25 minutes of medical attention on the field from USF trainers, fire truck paramedics and ambulance staff before being taken away by ambulance after receiving an IV and having her right leg immobilized with a broken tibia and fibula.
Those kids played from the heart and I told both (Comstock and Cady), Golly, girls, I dont know what to say except you played from the heart, USF coach Ken Eriksen said. You went all out the whole game. That run, if you catch it, the kid scores anyway on a sacrifice fly, but they played the game. Thats motivation for anybody. Thats nothing but heart for those two right there. The nice part about it is that even though the young lady broke her leg, she was understanding of what went on. There was no animosity. She played hard and it was a bad break.
Apart from the on-field injury, the weekend was nearly perfect for USF as Sara Nevins excelled again.
This weekend, in a sweep of the Red Storm, Nevins continued her dominance as the No. 18 Bulls (36-5, 9-0) pushed their win streak to 16 games, picking up the win in all three games as USF won 5-2, 9-1 and 6-0 at the USF Softball Stadium.
Her dominance is so overpowering that a two-hit shutout in the series finale Saturday almost felt like a bad outing.
Nevins was one strike away from her second perfect game of the season when St. Johns catcher Kacee Cox lined a double to right-center field, becoming the first Red Storm player of the day to even reach first base, let alone second. Two batters later, the game was over with Nevins finishing the game with 12 strikeouts and improving to 22-2 on the season. Over the course of the three games, she struck out 28 batters and allowed two runs.
Sometimes, youre a victim of your own success, Eriksen said. The crazy part is that I have a friend of mine that hits the blogs all the time and he said, Man, theyre all over you. And I say, What do you mean? He says, (Nevins) let in a run last week, what are you guys doing wrong?
For Nevins, coming within one strike of a perfect game before allowing a hit isnt disappointing.
I thought I did well hitting my marks, she said. It sucked, but I wasnt trying to think about it or anything. Im aware (of the perfect game possibility), but I just try not to think about it. Im glad its not a lot of hits, but, then again, it could always be better. Im satisfied.
After opening conference play 9-0, USF looks to continue its dominance when it hosts Providence for a doubleheader Wednesday afternoon.