Nevins, Bulls exit early in NCAA Tournament


USF senior pitcher Sara Nevins could only watch from the dugout as senior shortstop Kourtney Salvarola went to bat during the seventh inning against No. 3 Florida State in the final game of the regional round of the NCAA Tournament.

While the team was used to playing at this level after making the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons, Nevins’ wasn’t used to watching her final season at USF slip away helplessly from afar.

“(Nevins) did everything that her teammates asked of her,” coach Ken Eriksen said.

Nevins allowed only one run through three games before Sunday’s match, but senior shortstop Salvarola could not hit the ball far enough out of reach from a Seminole fielder, grounding out and ending the Bulls’ season with a 2-1 loss to FSU.

“Obviously it stinks that it’s over for us, but I wouldn’t want to go out any other way,” Salvarola said. “I wish we could’ve helped (Nevins) out a little more offensively but I’m still proud of my team and we gave it everything we had.”

USF’s effort began Friday with a victory on the first day of their three-day series.

Nevins and sophomore pitcher Erica Nunn kept the Gamecocks in check, finishing the game with 12 strikeouts between them. And as the two pitchers held South Carolina hitters scoreless, the USF offense backed them up with six runs.

However, after their final run against South Carolina was scored in the sixth inning Friday, the Bulls didn’t see another run scored for 11 innings.

When the Bulls finally did see a run, it was scored by the Seminoles in the second game of the weekend. Their two-run single by outfielder Alex Kossoff went past Nevins to left-center field in the 11th inning after a 3 hour and 44 minute duel between USF’s two-time AAC pitcher of the year and FSU pitcher Lacy Waldrop.

Without a response in the bottom of the inning, USF faced elimination, losing 2-0.

Going to the seventh inning against the Gamecocks in the third game, the Bulls began a rally off senior outfielder Courtney Goff’s single. Junior infielder Veronica Gajownik followed with a sacrifice bunt to get sophomore pinch hitter Lee Ann Spivey at bat.

“The whole time I was on the bench I kept thinking, ‘I have to be ready in case it’s my shot up at the plate,’” Spivey said.

Spivey ripped a single and tied the game. The walk-off single was provided by freshman infielder Kristen Wyckoff after sophomore pinch hitter Monica Santos drew a walk.

“We just had a walk-off win in an NCAA Regional to play for the championship tomorrow and God it’s exciting,” Eriksen said after the game.

But the Bulls were unable to follow up their walk-off win with another victory and their run in the NCAA Tournament came to an end Sunday.

While the Bulls couldn’t follow up on their 2012 Women’s College World Series run, the effort on the mound this past weekend by their ace was even acknowledged by Florida State coach Lonni Alameda in her opening remarks of the postgame press conference.

“(Nevins) pitched a great game,” Alameda said. “She threw a lot of innings yesterday and for her to come out and battle for her team was pretty awesome. What a career for her.”