Claudio, Bulls shutout Eagles

Karla Claudio helped USF shutout FGCU in her first win of the season Sunday. ORACLE PHOTO/ADAM MATHIEU

With wins eluding her for all 14 appearances of 2014, senior pitcher Karla Claudio notched her first win Sunday in an 11-0, run-rule rout of Florida Gulf Coast University in the USF President’s Day Weekend Tournament. 

“It’s an awesome win, especially after the one we played last night,” Claudio said. “We were all tired, but we gave it our all and I loved the atmosphere (Sunday).”

After losing to No. 11 Tennessee and Fordham on Saturday, the Bulls (6-4) were able to rebound with a big win against FGCU. Claudio ensured there would be no late drama Sunday as the right-hander allowed only two hits in three innings, with no walks and four strikeouts.

“I wasn’t trying to do too much,” Claudio said. “I was relaxed and just did what I knew how to do.”

Claudio didn’t have to carry the load in a game in which she received plenty of run support.

With one out in the third inning Sunday, sophomore Kristen Wyckoff sent a shot up the right-field line for a three-RBI triple before scoring off an error at second base, bringing the green-and-gold clad crowd to its feet.

“Right when I hit it, I just looked at it,” Wyckoff said. “I started running when I saw it was fair. I saw coach’s hands stopping me at third, but I didn’t listen to him. The adrenaline was rushing and I knew I was going home, all the way.”

Wyckoff’s hit capped a record-setting, 11-run inning for the Bulls.

Freshman outfielder Astin Donovan started the inning with a single to left field, followed by consecutive singles from Wyckoff and senior D’Anna Devine. Sophomore Juli Weber would bring the Bulls their first runs on a single up the middle to put USF up 2-0.

After a walk by freshman Lauren Evans to load the bases for a second time, junior Lee Ann Spivey doubled to right field to bring the growing lead to four.

USF would tack on seven more runs with RBI hits from Donovan and Wyckoff.

“The pitching and defense will come as the season goes, I’m not worried about that,” USF coach Ken Eriksen said. “If we can put runs on the board and cookin’ runs like we did today, we have a good chance of being competitive.”

USF won both games Friday to start the weekend, beating St. John’s 4-2 and Detroit 8-0 by run-rule in the fifth, but Saturday proved rough with USF losing 9-1 to Tennessee (9-0) and 14-6 to Fordham (6-4).

In the first game of the double header, senior pitcher Sam Greiner and junior Erica Nunn combined to give up seven earned runs off 11 hits and five walks, while the Bulls could generate little offense off their five hits.

Later in the night, USF would battle back and forth with Fordham before securing a 6-5 lead in the fifth. The Rams didn’t let them stay comfortable for long with an eight-run sixth inning, giving USF its second loss of the weekend.

“The best antidote for feeling crappy like we did yesterday is a W,” Eriksen said following Sunday’s win. “We came out hitting the ball pretty hard in the first inning … once you hit that turn in the batting order with the 8, 9, 1, 2 (batters), it’s nothing but pure speed.”