After nearly two weeks since playing a complete game, the USF softball team lost three this weekend for the first time this season.
Rain in New Jersey postponed USF’s series with Rutgers late last month, but the lack of playing real games outside of practice wasn’t what hurt the Bulls, coach Ken Eriksen said. What did, he said, was an error
“(It’s from) not turning up the heat (in practice) when we need to turn up the heat on the team,” he said. “It was a complete miscalculation from the coaching staff on preparation for Louisville.”
It was the first time USF was swept in a three-game series since April 25, 2010 against DePaul. At that time, USF’s current senior class was still in high school. USF finished under .500 that season.
In the finale of the three-game set on Sunday, USF squeezed across a run in the sixth inning to take a 1-0 lead, giving senior pitcher Sara Nevins a chance to record a complete-game shutout. That attempt was put to rest when Louisville’s Kelsi Jones doubled near the right field wall and advanced to third, scoring two Cardinals to take the lead.
Louisville added another and earned the 3-1 win.
On the offensive side, USF struggled against Louisville freshman pitcher Maryssa Becker, who threw 77 pitches in seven innings compared to USF’s 123 total pitches. USF often swung at pitches early in the count.
“I hope our pitchers can learn something from that, if (they) throw strikes early in the count,” Eriksen said. “If you’re 0-1 all the time, you have a better opportunity to get outs. But if it’s 2-0, 2-1, 3-1 constantly, it wears
Eriksen said USF (29-11, 3-3) needs to attack and challenge opponents early in the game because Louisville (23-15, 5-4) had an advantage with its short innings, adding that the Cardinals were quicker to get in and out of the dugout.
“It’s like running downhill, their defense stays fresh,” he said. “They run to the dugout a lot quicker. It’s like offense and defense in football. If your offense is holding the ball and their defense gets worn down, your own defense will stay fresh. It was completely opposite for us today.”
USF only managed two runs in the series, one of which came in the first game, a 5-1 loss. USF wasn’t able to capitalize on scoring opportunities in Saturday’s doubleheader, leaving a combined 15 runners on base.
In the series, Becker had two complete games with 14 innings pitched, one earned run, 15 strikeouts and one walk.
“I don’t think she was that awesome,” Eriksen said. “I just think we aren’t playing very well right now. The preparation needs to be better from the coaching staff. It’s more about us right now.”
Eriksen said preparation would have to be better for an upcoming series with UCF later this week. The Knights are sitting in second place in the AAC.
USF takes on UCF in a three-game series starting Saturday at the USF Softball Stadium.