With one out in the bottom of the fifth inning Sunday, the Bulls had a fighting chance.
The excited faces that watched USF’s strongest and, in most situations, timeliest hitter senior Lee Ann Spivey belt a home run to bring the game within one, quickly turned to disappointment as USF fell to Houston 5-2.
This snapped college softball’s longest-active winning streak, which spanned 23 games since March 5.
“(We) played at a very, very high level for five weeks,” head coach Ken Eriksen said. “(Show) me any team in the country that’s done that this year – not many.”
After trailing 3-1 early off defensive miscues, Spivey brought the crowd of 436 strong to its feet with her ninth home run of the season, closing the gap to a single run.
But what seemed like momentum was soon deflated as USF (31-10, 5-1) gave up two more runs in the sixth. From there, Houston eliminated any chance of a rally, retiring USF’s final six batters.
“Any team that you play that you give extra batters, walks and errors to, it makes it tough on your defense and tough on your team,” Eriksen said. “We left a lot of people on base and we did a pretty good job of getting them out there.”
USF stranded seven batters against the Cougars, including three in a scoreless first inning.
The loss also tarnished USF’s perfect conference record. The Bulls, now 4-1 in conference play, have already exceeded last year’s win total of 28 games, but still trail the program record of 60 wins in a single season set in 2004.
Senior pitcher Erica Nunn (16-6), who had USF’s first RBI of the game, lost only her sixth game of the season. She has already eclipsed her career high in wins.
Despite the loss, Eriksen doesn’t foresee any lingering effects from the ended streak.
“I don’t think it’s like drinking a bottle of whiskey where you’re drunk and then tomorrow you’re hungover,” Eriksen joked. “To some people that sit in the stands, they don’t realize how hard it is to come out here every single day and maintain that level that we maintained.”
USF plays a doubleheader against Bethune-Cookman starting at 5 p.m. on Wednesday at the USF Softball Stadium.
USF baseball drops series to Cincinnati
With a six-series winning streak hanging in the balance Sunday, what began as a slow start for USF (15-13, 1-2) turned into a 14-inning marathon with USF falling 4-3 to Cincinnati (14-13, 2-1) in its first conference series of the season.
This brought USF’s streak to a halt after also dropping Saturday’s game 3-2.
The Bearcats got on the board early with two runs in the first three innings, but a home run from USF freshman outfielder Chris Chatfield – his team-leading seventh of the season – cut the lead to one.
Following an RBI single in the top of the fourth, the Bulls struggled to fight back until they had no choice.
Down to their final strike with a base-runner on second, freshman Cameron Montgomery sent a game-tying, two-run shot over the fence. The homer, which was the first of Montgomery’s career, triggered five innings of back-and-forth drama between the teams.
Bulls’ reliever Tommy Eveld, who entered the game in the eighth inning, held the Bearcats scoreless through the 13th, but with no offense generated by USF, the game was put back in the hands of Cincinnati heading to the bottom of the 14th.
Cincinnati’s Joey Thomas brought in the winning run with a walk-off double, scoring Kyle Mottice from first.
USF sophomore Joe Cavallaro, who received the no-decision, gave up three runs, but retired the final 11 batters he faced. Eveld pitched five innings and only allowed two hits.
Women’s tennis’ has 11-match streak snapped
The USF women’s tennis team had not lost a match since its Feb. 28 match against Tulane. Their 11-match streak ended with a 4-0 sweep at the hands of Rice in its final home match of the season.
The streak was the longest since the 2013-14 season when the Bulls won 14 straight.
The Bulls (13-6) travel to the University of North Florida on Saturday at noon.