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Bulls add to AAC slump

Junior Lee Ann Spivey has accounted for nearly a quarter of USF’s RBIs, as she has knocked in 48 of the Bulls’ 202 runs. ORACLE PHOTO/JACOB HOAG

USF softball coach Ken Eriksen called the weekend humbling as the Bulls dropped two of their three games at home against last-place East Carolina (ECU) over the
weekend.

After winning 20-of-21 games heading into conference play, the Bulls have slumped as of late, with a 4-6 record in the AAC and a winning margin of just one run per game.

This weekend’s series was no different, with a one-run win Saturday followed by 10-1 and 7-3 losses.

USF (33-15, 4-6) got on the board first Sunday off an ECU throwing error in the bottom of the fourth, which sent freshman Lauren Evans home from third.

The lead didn’t hold for long as the Pirates (13-35, 5-10) jumped out for four runs in the top of the fifth. Sophomore Kacie Oshiro blasted a two-RBI triple through the gap, followed by a two-RBI double by sophomore Ali Ramirez.

Down 7-1, USF would add two runs in the bottom of the seventh off a Lee Ann Spivey double, but failed to push across any more runs.

“You’d like to get someone other than Spivey driving in runs for us,” Eriksen said. “She’s accounted for maybe 50 percent of our RBIs this season … We have to make sure she’s not doing too much.”

Although not quite 50 percent, the senior catcher has driven in 48 of USF’s 202 runs this season, including a walk-off single in Saturday’s 3-2 win — the lone bright spot of the weekend.

Just as it was an uncharacteristic weekend for USF — allowing 17 runs in two games — it was also an unlikely two-win weekend for the Pirates, who were riding a six-game losing streak into the matchup.

ECU pitcher Lydia Ritchie pitched a complete game Sunday along with five innings Saturday, and earned her first two wins of the season after losing her first six.

“The way we play, you have to play flawless,” Eriksen said. “You can’t give the other team freebies and that’s the big deal right now.”

The Bulls get a chance to bounce back with a three-game series against Memphis at home Saturday, but for now, Eriksen said the team needs a break.

“It starts with two days off,” Eriksen said. “Get away from the ballpark, get away from the bad mojo and try not to beat yourself up.”