In front of a greener-than-usual crowd Tuesday night, the USF softball team exhibited the perfect combination of dominant pitching and timely hitting, and swept its doubleheader with two shutouts.
The Bulls’ pitching staff allowed only four hits and no runs in 12 innings of work between the two games as USF was able to beat Hartford (1-17) 9-0 and Canisius (6-9) 7-0 at the USF Softball Complex.
USF ranks second in the conference with a 2.17 ERA and has allowed three runs in their last eight games.
“(We were nervous) in the beginning,” senior Sam Greiner said. “Sara (Nevins) carried a lot of the weight last year and years past, and I think a lot of us are now starting to get a lot more innings and have that weight put on us and we’re coming together.”
Greiner and junior Erica Nunn were both able to go the distance and combined for 11 strikeouts with only two walks.
“My defense played great behind me,” Greiner said following her one-hit complete game shutout against Hartford. “I didn’t have a lot of strikeouts, but I threw a lot of groundballs and the defense was making plays.”
On the offensive side, USF has been one of the hottest teams in the conference this season. The Bulls lead the AAC in seven offensive categories including batting average (.322), hits (269) and runs (186), among others.
It doesn’t seem to matter who is at the plate for the Bulls, with eight batters hitting over .300 on the season.
“That’s our game,” coach Ken Eriksen said. “If you can keep the other team at zero as long as possible and get timely hitting, there’s a great opportunity to win and that’s the way we’ve done it here for years.”
Catcher Lee Ann Spivey has been the Bulls’ most consistent hitter, and leads the conference in RBIs with 41 — eight more than she had in 54 games last season.
Spivey added three more to her total when she sent a three-run home run over the right-center field wall in the bottom of the first to put USF on the board. USF is now 21-0 in 2015 when scoring first.
Sophomore Kristen Wyckoff and senior D’Anna Devine each added an RBI in the four-run fourth inning.
As a young team entering the season, USF is now turning the corner in becoming one of the most dominant teams in the conference, and eliminating mistakes with only two errors in the past nine games.
The Bulls take a 28-8 record into conference play that begins this weekend at Houston, beginning Saturday at 2 p.m.