Nevins leads Bulls in sweep at Pitt
The USF softball team traveled to Pittsburgh over the weekend for its second road trip of the season and returned to Tampa tied for first place in the Big East.
Led by 12 consecutive hitless innings from junior pitcher Sara Nevins, USF swept the Panthers to improve to 10-1 in the Big East and record its third-straight series sweep in conference play.
Nevins threw the fourth no-hitter of her career in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
It was the first no-hitter for Nevins this season and third for the Bulls as a team, the other two registered by senior Lindsey Richardson.
Nevins got a start in Sunday’s game as well, and was threatening to match last year’s feat of throwing a no-hitter on consecutive days. She didn’t allow a hit until the sixth inning, when Pittsburgh’s Carly Thea reached base on a bunt single.
In total, Nevins pitched 13 and 1/3 innings and allowed no runs on just one hit, while striking out 19 batters and walking three.
The Bulls’ hitters brought their best effort as well, and scored 22 runs in the three game set.
In the first game on Saturday, USF jumped out to an early lead on the Panthers with five hits in the first inning.
Senior Kenshyra Jackson, freshman Morgan Litchfield and junior Ashli Goff each drove in a run for the Bulls to grab the 3-0 lead before Nevins had thrown a pitch.
Pitt committed three costly errors in the third inning, which allowed one run to score and left the door open for Goff to drive in two more runs on a single that gave the Bulls a 6-0 lead.
Goff, who had knocked in only five runs so far this season, tied her single-game high with three RBI while freshman Monica Santos gave the Bulls a double-digit lead in the seventh inning when she hit her second home run of the year, a three-run shot that drove in junior Ilaura Reeves and sophomore Allie Patierno.
USF won 10-0 before senior Lindsey Richardson started the second game of the doubleheader in four and 2/3 innings the right-hander gave up no runs on one hit and struck out nine Panthers.
Up 4-0 in the third inning on two RBI from Jackson and one each from Litchfield and junior Stephanie Medina, Pitt scored their only run of the series.
After sophomore Carly Thea recorded the first hit of the day for the Panthers with a double to centerfield, she scored on an error by Santos at second base. Pitt’s hopes for a rally didn’t last long, though, as junior shortstop Kourtney Salvarola hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning, her 12th of the year.
Medina immediately followed with her sixth home run of the year, a solo shot that give the Bulls a 7-1 lead.
Freshman Erica Nunn and sophomore Sam Greiner saw brief action in the circle before Nevins entered the game to get the final out with two Panthers on base. Sunday’s matchup brought more of a pitcher’s duel until the sixth inning.
Up 1-0, USF freshman Lee Ann Spivey drove in Salvarola to take a 2-0 lead before Litchfield notched her third consecutive game with an RBI to make it 3-0.
The Bulls added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh inning, when Medina and Spivey each posted their second RBI singles of the game.
The 5-0 win improved the Bulls’ record to 32-11. It was the ninth win in a row for USF, and the 25th win in their last 26 games.
Tied for first place in the Big East with the DePaul Blue Demons, USF will travel to Gainesville on Wednesday in hopes of avenging its loss to the Gators on Feb. 27.