USF wins school record 18th straight

Janine Richardson reached first base, looked to assistant coach Stacey Heintz, smiled and shrugged.

Richardson was on first base because of a hit that went no further than two feet from home plate, but allowed her to run 60 feet and reach first base safely. It wasnt a pretty display of hitting prowess from the center fielder, but it worked.

And lately, it seems like everything is working for the No. 18 USF softball team, which swept a Wednesday afternoon doubleheader from Providence. The Bulls winning streak is now at a school-record 18 games, not that coach Ken Eriksen, in his 27th season as coach, noticed.

Somebody said that to me the other day, they said, You know, theres a streak, Eriksen said. Im not even sure what the record is, to tell you the truth. I dont know if we broke it.

The Bulls (38-5, 11-0) received strong pitching again, blanking the Friars in both games and winning 5-0 each time, even if the pitching performances came in dramatically different styles.

Sara Nevins (23-2) pitched six innings in game one, throwing 93 pitches in a dominant two-hit shutout and striking out 12 Friars. Providence leadoff hitter Jen Abrams went 2-for-2 with a pair of singles, but the rest of the lineup went a combined 0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts. The remaining six outs came via groundball.

In game two, Sam Greiner (9-3) pitched a four-hit shutout, needing only 79 pitches to complete seven innings. Relying on her groundball, she stuck out only four batters.

I give a lot of credit to my defense, Greiner said. I didnt have a lot of strikeouts today, which is pretty usual, and they did a great job behind me. I know that even though I dont get a lot of strikeouts, I know that theyre good behind me.

For both pitchers the result was the same, as USF reached 11-0 in conference play for the first time.

Lindsey Richardson relieved Nevins to pitch the last inning, her first appearance since March 9 due to shoulder tightness. After walking the leadoff batter, she struck out the next two batters and ended the inning with a fly ball.

Eriksen remains focused on continuing to make progress, looking toward Thursdays practice before the team heads to Connecticut for a three-game set against the Huskies (17-14, 6-3).

Consistency has been our mantra all year. Im looking forward to practice tomorrow to work on some things that we didnt do altogether right today, he said. I told our team, The one thing we havent done yet is have a perfect practice.

USF heads north atop the Big East, with a two-game lead over No. 12 Louisville (35-2, 9-2). The Bulls will play a doubleheader Saturday before a Sunday morning finale.