Rough fifth inning sinks USF in South Bend

One inning was all it took. In the span of just three outs, the USF softball team went from an upstart conference title contender to a disappointed team with a sudden end to their conference season.

In the Bulls Big EastTournament debut againstDePaul on Thursday morning, a fateful fifth inning altered the course of the teams season in a 6-0 loss.

An otherwise strong performance was marred byone frustrating inning, in a game that was a microcosm of USFs conference season. After the Bulls (45-11,17-5) started 13-0 in conference play, a tough closingschedule forced the team to stumble to a 17-4 finish, which dropped them from first to fourth place in the conference.

In a game full of comparisons, Nevins recapped her regular season performance in the first round. The sophomore showed flashes of brilliance against the Blue Demons, carrying a no-hitterin the fourth. But, much like her season, she hit a rough patch in the home stretch.

Nevins dominated to start the regular season before a toughfinish, including a loss atLouisville on April 18, when she pitched just 3.1 innings and
allowed five runs in a 9-0 loss in the second game of a doubleheader. Nevins finished theregular season fifth in thecountry in ERA.

Though six runs crossedunder her watch, Nevins was only credited with one earned run in the first round loss to DePaul. After a lead-off double, Lynsey Ciezki singled in the first run of the game and an infielder error loaded the bases. The BlueDemons hit two consecutive singles to bring the score to 5-0. Nevins final pitch, a wild pitch, scored the final run of the game.

After the loss, the Bulls will have to have shortmemories. They will play the rival UCF Knights in theGainesville regional.

You know, its funny, coach Ken Eriksen said. In 2006, we got to the Big East Tournament and lost in the first round to Pittsburgh, and then we won in the Regionals, so well have to find the toughness in our hearts and our guts.