TALLAHASSEE — Entering a do-or-die game with South Carolina in the NCAA Regional on Saturday evening at JoAnne Graf Field in Tallahassee, it was fair to wonder how much Georgina Corrick was going to be capable of.
After all, the sophomore pitcher had gone the distance against that same Gamecock team just a day prior. Corrick was also coming off her worst outing of the season — a six-run, five-walk performance against No.4-seed FSU earlier in the day, which the Bulls lost 12-1 in five innings.
Corrick left no doubt what she was capable of in the nightcap. The Bulls’ ace went the distance and struck out seven in USF’s 2-1 loss in 10 innings.
“Knowing George, and knowing where she’s been this year,” coach Ken Eriksen said, “for her to go back-to-back from [Friday] to [Saturday] and earlier [Saturday], was just absolutely one of the gutsiest performances I’ve seen from a USF pitcher in a long, long time — if not one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen.”
Between the two complete games against South Carolina (38-18) and the 2.1 innings she threw before being relieved by senior Nicole Doyle against FSU, Corrick threw a combined 340 pitches. Part of the reason she even went back into the pitching circle for the second South Carolina game was her motivation to face the Seminoles again.
“I think we went into that game [against FSU] and we got punched in the mouth and we didn’t punch back, and I wanted to face them again, Corrick said. “I wanted to make sure that there wasn’t a chance that we wouldn’t be in that final game. So I wanted to go out there and do it for my team and do it for myself and make a stand for USF that we came here to compete — and I think we showed people that we did.”
It was a simple decision for Eriksen — put out the lineup that gives his team the best chance to win. And that lineup, despite the obvious fatigue, included Corrick.
“It really wasn’t a hard decision,” Eriksen said. “You always make the lineup out as a coach to give your team the best chance to win, because if you don’t, then you don’t have the confidence in the team that you’re putting the best team on the field every single day.”
The game against FSU (53-8) was one to forget. In addition to getting run-ruled, the Bulls gave up four consecutive homers in the fifth inning, turning what was already an almost insurmountable lead into what was the eventual 11-run difference. The homers marked the first time a team had hit four straight homers in NCAA softball tournament history.
But Corrick and the Bulls had to have a short memory, as the loss dropped them to the loser’s bracket to face the Gamecocks, who had defeated Bethune-Cookman in between USF’s games.
Things started great for the Bulls (42-18) thanks to senior Lindsey Devitt, who hit a leadoff homer in the bottom of the first inning. An RBI single in the top of the second tied the game 1-1 — which is where the score would remain for the next seven innings until Corrick gave up a leadoff homer in the 10th.
In the process, Corrick and South Carolina pitcher Dixie Raley worked masterpieces. The two pitchers combined for 20 innings, three runs, 12 strikeouts and 346 total pitches.
“Another classic South Carolina and South Florida matchup, and being the third game of the day on a Saturday, we got some fierce competition, something you would expect for a 2/3 matchup,” Eriksen said. “This game came down to inches, and their pitcher Dixie threw a phenomenal game, but so did Georgina as she was on fumes heading into this game.”
Saturday’s losses ended the Bulls’ season and, according to Eriksen, was the conclusion of a gritty season which saw the Bulls, who lost a lot of talent to graduation after last year, still win over 40 games.
“Everybody was, ‘How are you going to do this year?’” Eriksen said. “I said, ‘I’ll tell you in May.’ We did phenomenal. … I’m just tickled pink. And it hurts right now. It’s going to hurt. But, when they come back in the fall, I think there will be a realization of, ‘holy smokes.’
“It was a year that’s going to go down in history for USF softball as one of the gutsiest performances.”