To improve on a 3-1 start, the USF softball team needs its supporting cast to step up to the plate.
Doing so would takepressure offthe foursome of elite hitters and allow theteam to become a well-oiled machine as the season continues.
Junior shortstop Kourtney Salvarola, junior first baseman Stephanie Medina, senior infielder Kenshyra Jackson and freshman outfielder Lee Ann Spivey carried the team in last weekends USF Wilson-DeMarini Opening Day Tournament. The big batters combined for 18 hits in 41 at-bats, batted in 12 of the Bulls 15 runs, scoredseven runs and earned five walks.
Eight of those 15 runs were scored in the opening game against Marshall, which means USF scored only seven runs in the last three games of the tournament, burning them on Sunday in a 2-1 upset loss against Florida Atlantic Universitya team that lost its first four games of the tournament.
A Salvarola defensive error in the first inning proved to be critical in the outcome of the game, because it scored an unearned run and gave pitcher Lindsay Richardson very little breathing room, as the Bulls didnt score a run until the seventh inning when they were already down 2-0.
In the four games, the rest of the Bulls lineup went 7-of-47 at the plate for a .149 batting average. They batted in two runs and scored three.
Sophomore Danna Devine is likely to improve from her 1-for-7 at the plate during the weekend.
The center fielder batted .269 in her freshman season and should continue to see plenty of action, as she appears to be the best option defensively in center field.
Another likely contributor could be freshman Erica Nunn. Thepitcher/outfielder didnt get a hit in six at-bats, but was a 2012 ESPNHigh School All-American and should see many more opportunities to prove herself.
From a pitching perspective,there doesnt seem tobe a problem.
The lack of offensive punch in the FAU loss diminished the outstanding work of Richardson.
The senior threw a no-hitter on Friday, saved both games on Saturday, then pitched a complete game on Sunday.The right-hander only gave up one earned run in13 and one-third innings.
Coach Ken Eriksen seemed to be riding the hot-hand ofRichardson all weekend.
The veteran coach hinted that he will likely keep Richardsonsinnings down this weekend and increase sophomore SamGreiners innings due to herimpressive drop-ball.
With Richardson starting two games last weekend, one shouldnt be surprised if junior ace SaraNevins pitches more than10 innings and makes a couple of starts in this weekends contests.
Nevins will almost certainly step into the circle against the Tennessee Volunteers (5-0) on Saturday. The perennial SEC power was ranked in the Top 10 in preseason polls.
North Carolina State should also bring a tough test on Friday at4:15 p.m. along with CoastalCarolina in the 6:30 p.m. game.