Even though USF softball’s game Tuesday was just an exhibition, it was not your ordinary one.
The Bulls took on 2020 Olympic-bound Team USA in a game that could’ve been a blowout on paper.
Except it wasn’t.
USF’s 3-0 loss at the USF Softball Stadium wasn’t really a loss considering the caliber of team the Bulls played. USF held its own gainst the world’s best.
“What I liked about the USF team tonight … there was no fear in the other dugout whatsoever,” said Team USA coach Ken Eriksen, who is taking a leave of absence from USF this season to lead Team USA in the Olympics.
The Bulls’ bats weren’t flashy, though — they recorded just two hits. But they were impressive considering the pitchers faced.
One hit came from Bethaney Keen in the first inning and another from AJ Carter in the fourth. Keen’s hit came against two-time Olympian Cat Osterman and Carter got one off Monica Abbott, who was throwing upward of 70 mph.
“I definitely thought it was pretty cool getting a hit off Monica Abbott,” Carter said. “It was a great feeling knowing you’re facing the top pitchers of the world and just getting a hit off her was a real good feeling.”
Going up against household names can definitely be intimidating. The tempo at the plate was set straight away.
“The first pitch, I was like, ‘OK, this is how it’s gonna be,'” Keen said.
It just took some time to settle in.
“Then I just saw the next pitch, I knew I had to compete and I kind of just saw it and threw my bat out there,” Keen said. “[I] kind of got lucky.”
Team USA batters didn’t fare much better than the Bulls, as they only recorded five hits.
USF ace Georgina Corrick took the circle first. And with that came the fresh, game-ready Team USA at the top of the order.
With Eriksen knowing USF as well as he does, he knew the ins and outs of Corrick’s pitching.
Combine the two factors, and there was a potential problem for Corrick.
Except there wasn’t. She managed the game, giving up only one run in the first inning. The second and third she kept scoreless.
Corrick also has international experience under her belt, which likely gave her an advantage. She’s been pitching for Great Britain since she was 15 years old.
Great Britain was on the cusp of making it to the Olympics but lost to Italy in the qualifiers.
“She’s one of the best in the world,” Eriksen said. “We knew they were going to face a kid that almost got Great Britain to the Olympics … a lot of people, I hope, realize how good she really is.”
The pitchers that followed were underclassmen — sophomores Brittany Hook and Camryn Dolby and freshman Vivian Ponn, who all pitched fewer innings than Corrick, but only gave up two runs between the three of them.
Two hits against the best pitching staff in the world and a solid pitching effort against Team USA shows the growth of the team, according to USF interim head coach Jessica Moore.
“I learned that they matured a little bit faster maybe than I thought,” Moore said. “On these nights, you never know because they can come out starry-eyed, which I hope they did.
“But they came out and they still competed.”