Despite an early lead, USF softball (23-14, 1-2) failed to take down defending AAC Tournament champion Tulsa (20-9, 2-1) in the opening weekend of AAC play, as the Bulls fell 3-1 at the USF Softball Stadium on Sunday.
Junior outfielder Riley Gore hit her third home run of the season in the bottom of the second inning to give the Bulls the lead in a game that started off in favor of the Bulls compared to USF’s five-run deficit in the first two innings Saturday.
The Golden Hurricane didn’t let the lead hold long when an RBI single in the top of the third tied up the game.
Tulsa’s offensive momentum was too much to handle for USF’s defense as an RBI single in the fifth and a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning sealed the Bulls’ defeat.
“It just feels like they swept us,” coach Ken Eriksen said. “Because of their heart and their fight.”
Eriksen was impressed that Tulsa kept its composure and credited its ability to move runners.
“They’re relentless. They come out and get runners in scoring position and they’re hacking and bringing them around the plate,” Eriksen said. “They run hard, they play hard. They’re street-fighters.”
Eriksen also praised Tulsa’s three pitchers, who only gave up six hits and one run.
“Really impressed with their pitchers who really went after our hitters,” Eriksen said. “Any time that you’re two strikes in the at bat all weekend long, it makes it tough to hit. You can’t swing at the junk and you got to go after the good stuff.”
Georgina Corrick, who broke her record for strikeouts in a game with 16 on Friday, snapped her nine-game win streak and registered her second loss this season.
An intentional walk to Tulsa senior Morgan Neal in the fifth inning shifted senior Julia Hollingsworth to second base. The intentional walk put a Tulsa runner into scoring position and indirectly contributed to Tulsa’s second run.
Eriksen said his decision to intentionally walk Neal was based on prior statistics.
“Meinen was hitting .178. Neal was owning us the last two and three years,” Eriksen said. “They’re bulldogging the first pitch, they’re ambushing the first pitch … you got to stick with a game plan and you got to stick with the things you got to do. Statistically, I’ll do that one-thousand million times.”
USF moves into the second weekend of conference play when the team travels to Houston next weekend. Eriksen hopes the team’s spirit isn’t broken after the series loss.
“We’ll take some MRIs and some X-rays on our heart and see if we got some torn heart-ilage or if we can come out and fight.”