Softball defeats Virginia Tech, Georgia State in doubleheader

Nicole Doyle pitched a complete game one-hitter against Georgia State on Friday. ORACLE PHOTO/NOLAN BROWN

The USF-Rawlings Invitational started strong for USF softball as the Bulls came from behind to defeat Virginia Tech 7-2 and Nicole Doyle’s one-hitter against Georgia State secured a 4-0 victory, giving the Bulls both wins in Friday’s doubleheader.

USF earns a win in the first game of the Invitational against Virginia Tech

USF (6-6) began the invitational with a comeback victory against the Hokies (9-2) — who were undefeated prior to their games Friday — after giving up a two-run homer in the top of the third inning. The Bulls came back after an explosive fourth inning in which they scored six runs.

“We put people on and we move them across. That’s the game of fastpitch softball,” said coach Ken Eriksen. “It’s not just about the big swing and a big fly every time. It’s not gonna happen as much as moving runners and executing, and we executed very well.”

The first run came after leading offensive player Bethaney Keen hit a ground-ball single up the middle. An error by Virginia Tech sent freshman Megan Sheehan home from second base. USF tied up the game shortly after scoring its first run when Macy Cook sent the ball into left field, scoring Lindsey Devitt.

The Bulls took the lead when Dezarae Maldonado singled to center field with the bases loaded, scoring Megan Hargreaves, who was pinch running for Keen. Virginia Tech’s pitcher Carrie Eberle also hit both Jaycie Michael and Anamarie Brunni nonconsecutively, scoring Cook and Maldonado, respectively.

USF’s final run of the first game came in the bottom of the sixth inning when Kelsey Lay grounded down the left-field line, scoring Jaycie Michael.

Georgina Corrick, who was awarded AAC Pitcher of the Week on Monday, extended her win streak to four games, striking out three batters over five innings against Virginia Tech.

“I really think this team is coming together as a unit really, really well,” Corrick said after USF’s victory over Georgia State. “People are coming up and doing their jobs and that’s really exciting for pitchers because it takes a huge weight off of our shoulders.”

Bulls shut out Panthers behind one-hitter by Doyle

Doyle had a standout pitching performance against Georgia State (1-10) in the Bulls’ third-consecutive win and their second win of the day.

The senior pitched a total of nine innings on Friday — the final two innings against the Hokies and a complete game against Georgia State — giving up only one hit against Georgia State. Doyle registered five strikeouts, one strikeout away from her record for strikeouts in a game.

Doyle pitched her first complete game with the Bulls and she spoke on the fatigue factor.

“I’m good. Finally, I figured it out for a full game,” Doyle said. “Regardless, I trust everyone who’s going to come in behind me and I pretty much just do my job for as long as I can and hand it over if I have to.”

USF scored its first run against the Panthers in the bottom of the first inning when Devitt sent a fly ball to center field, scoring Bruni. Michael and Keen scored in the bottom of the third to score the second and third runs, respectively. Brooke Leistl scored in the sixth inning for the Bulls’ fourth and final run of the game

Keen currently leads the Bulls offensively with a batting average of .424. She recorded three hits in five at-bats between the two games.

USF plays another doubleheader on Saturday, starting the day off against Georgia State at 3 p.m. and ending the day with a game against Texas State at 5:30 p.m. Despite the back-to-back wins Friday, Eriksen wants the team to remain sharp and focused.

“They have to come out like they’ve never played these guys before and at the same time feel like they have a target on their backs because Georgia State is going to be comfortable,” Eriksen said. “They’ve seen us and we have to throw something different at them. We have to be a little more aggressive, we have to be faster … tomorrow is tomorrow and today is today.”