The streak continued for the USF softball team with two more wins in extra innings on Thursday against Big East opponent Villanova.
The Bulls (27-11) have won four games in a row and 21 of their last 22 games, sitting at third place in Big East standings at 5-1.
The one constant for the Bulls this season has been pitching, and it was no different on USF’s first trip out of the sunshine state.
The Bulls’ pitching staff allowed two runs and 15 hits in 27 innings of work, laying the foundation for a sweep of the Wildcats in Philadelphia.
After a scheduled start time of 11 a.m. was pushed back for more than an hour due to a tardy umpire, USF found itself in an 11-inning pitching duel against Villanova freshman Kate Poppe.
USF senior Lindsey Richardson started the game and gave up one hit in five and 2/3 innings before junior Sara Nevins came on to pitch five and 1/3 innings without allowing a hit.
Even with three USF errors, the duo combined for a one-hit, 15-strikeout and 11-inning shutout.
But it was junior infielder Dani Wayt’s sacrifice fly in the 11th inning that drove in sophomore third baseman Nicolette Levine which proved to be the difference.
Given the depth of his pitching staff, USF coach Ken Eriksen chose not to overwork any particular pitcher in the 1-0 win, a luxury Villanova didn’t have.
The Wildcats relied heavily on Poppe this season, and that didn’t change.
Poppe equaled the dominance of Richardson and Nevins in 11 innings, but threw 182 pitches, which may have come back to hurt Villanova in the second game.
Junior Kaity Sitzman started for the Wildcats and went seven scoreless innings before Villanova decided to bring Poppe in to pitch.
She didn’t have the same touch as she did in the first game, allowing two baserunners before junior Kourtney Salvarola stepped to the plate with no score in the ninth inning.
With two walks in the game already, Salvarola got the best of Poppe and the Wildcats on a go-ahead three-run blast that drove in seniors Stephanie Juergens and Kenshyra
Villanova couldn’t score in the bottom of the inning and for the second time in five days, a Salvarola home run won the game for the Bulls.
Sophomore Sam Greiner started for the USF and pitched three scoreless innings before Richardson and Nevins finished off the Wildcats in the last six innings of the 3-0 victory.
Salvarola currently leads the conference with 11 home runs and is second with 31 RBI, batting a .400 in the series with three home runs, eight runs batted in, three runs scored and two walks.
St. John’s (9-23-1, 3-3 Big East) will play the Bulls at the USF softball stadium on Wednesday for an afternoon doubleheader beginning at 12:30 p.m.