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Fung provides spark in wins over Utah

Sophomore outfielder Mia Fung shakes off the pain after getting hit in the knuckle — the second time in two weeks — in Wednesday’s 6-1 win over Utah. ORACLE PHOTO/ADAM MATHIEU

Sophomore outfielder Mia Fung took her base wincing in pain and clutching her left hand with USF down a run to Utah (12-4) in the first inning on Wednesday night.

Despite getting clipped in the hand by a 65-mile-per-hour pitch, Fung stayed in the game and sent her fifth home run over the left-field fence on her next at-bat two innings later. From there, USF (14-9) kept rolling to beat the Utes 6-1 and 9-1 in the double header in front of an announced home crowd of 429.

“I was trying to laugh off the pain,” said Fung who was hit in her opposite hand last week as well. “I just had to brush it off. You can’t think about it or it’s going to mess up your whole game.”

Fung’s home run in the first game brought the score to 3-1 after USF plated two runs in the first off a walk and a bases-loaded single from junior Juli Weber. Fung hit only three homers in 2015, but has been one of the driving forces behind USF’s newfound power, leading the team in home runs.

“I’ve been working on my stance and making sure I’m relaxed,” Fung said. “As long as I’m relaxed at bat, I’ll keep hitting well.”

Thanks, in part to Fung, USF has 13 more extra-base hits and 10 more home runs than the first 23 games of 2015.

That added power burst through again in the fifth inning with senior pitcher Erica Nunn hitting a two-out double to score Fung who reached on a two-strike single.

USF tacked on its final two runs in the sixth. A single from Weber coupled with a fielding error by Utah centerfielder Delilah Pacheco scored sophomores Lauren Evans and Astin Donovan.

Freshman Cheyenne Eggens’ record remained unblemished, earning her sixth win despite not recording a strikeout. 

“She’s a hard worker,” assistant coach Tommy Santiago said. “Every time at practice or in the cage or in the bullpen, wherever she’s at, she’s working.”

The Bulls kept it going in Game 2 with two runs in the first inning, including a two-RBI shot from catcher Lee Ann Spivey — putting the senior nine homers away from the USF career mark.

Spivey added her eighth RBI of the season on a single and error in the third that scored Weber, stretching the deficit to three.

It wasn’t until the top of the sixth inning that the Utes would get on the board. With Pacheco stuck in a rundown, USF shortstop Cassidy Boyle went for the tag at second base, which allowed Utah’s Hannah Flippen to score from third.

But USF answered right back in the ensuing half inning. 

Senior Mo Santos scored two with a single just under the glove of Utah right fielder Ally Dickman’s glove to give the Bulls a four-run advantage.

From there, the runs kept pouring in with USF scoring four more runs in the sixth, capped off with a deep double by Fung to score Wyckoff and put the run-rule into effect.

Fung, who started only 22 of 56 games in 2015, has started all 21 this season. She finished the day 4-for-7 with two runs scored and a pair of RBIs.

“This year, I’m a lot more comfortable,” Fung said. “Last year, I didn’t get as much playing time as I do this year. So, me being in every game and getting a lot of reps is helping.”