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Pitching stronger than ever for Bulls in 2018

Hannah Parker pitching in a game last season. Parker has made 43 appearances and 17 starts in her career as a Bull. ORACLE FILE PHOTO/JACKIE BENITEZ

USF Softball features a talented pitching rotation that will set the tone for the 2018 season, which begins on Feb. 8 when the Bulls host Illinois State in their home opener.

With six talented pitchers, coach Ken Eriksen faces a good quandry as he enters season No. 22 as USF’s manager — which one does he start opening day.

“We’ve got six options right now, and they’re all pretty good options,” Eriksen said. “That’s the only reason I’m not sleeping right now. I think what we’re going to do is continue to take a look at how Illinois State is, and I’m going to see how our guys match up against their lineups.”

Though there hasn’t been a No. 1 starter named by Eriksen, junior pitcher Cheyenne Eggens, who posted a 1.87 ERA last season and was named First-Team All-AAC, is one of three returning pitchers who could enter the circle to start the game. The other two returning pitchers are Jojo McGill and Hannah Parker.

McGill led the team with 11 wins last season, while Parker posted a 10-7 record in her first season at USF after transferring from Western Kentucky.

“I’m very excited about our pitching staff this year,” outfielder Astin Donovan said. “We have a lot of depth. We have a lot of movement. They’re all different in their unique ways.”

The new pitchers on staff include Nicole Doyle, Georgina Corrick and Miriam Schmoll.

Doyle, a sophomore transfer from Southern Illinois, threw a no-hitter in her first career start with the Salukis last season. After the no-hitter, Doyle finished the season with a 3.32 ERA in 12.2 innings.

Corrick, despite being a freshman, already has post-high school experience by playing for the British national team last August. She posted 758 strikeouts and a 0.56 ERA throughout her high school career and helped lead Great Britain to a European Championship.

Schmoll, who’s also a freshman, finished her high school career with a 0.56 ERA and 705 strikeouts. To tack on to her impressive statistics, she threw six perfect games and nine no-hitters while at Bayshore High School in Bradenton.

“We’ve got six guys that can start,” Eriksen said. “Six guys that can go middle, and we’ve got six guys that can kill it. So we’re feeling pretty good about that right now.”

Last season, the USF pitching staff finished with a 3.37 ERA.

“I think we have a lot of talent, and I think we’re ready,” Donovan said.

Eriksen honed in on the mentality that the team will still have to work hard to be successful, warning against the dangers of expectations.

“I think one word that’ll get you in trouble is expectations,” Eriksen said. “…Championships will happen along the way, the scoreboard will win by itself. We just have to take care of stuff between the lines.”