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Bulls fall to Gators in regional finals, eliminated from Gainesville Regional

Junior pitcher Georgina Corrick (left) pitched 26 total innings against UF, Baylor and South Alabama over the weekend. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

After beating both Baylor and South Alabama to keep its season alive Saturday, the USF softball team was defeated by UF on Sunday to put an end to its 2021 campaign.

The game was much closer than the 8-0 final score shows, as the Gators scored six runs in the top of the seventh inning to truly put the game out of reach for the Bulls.

Despite being no-hit on the day, coach Ken Eriksen made sure to give credit to the work of his pitcher, junior Georgina Corrick.

Corrick, who tossed 26 innings over the weekend regional tournament, allowed just four earned runs across four games, three of them coming against UF on Sunday. She also threw her sixth career no-hitter against Baylor on Saturday.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that we’re a very, very competitive team,” Eriksen said. “When you have one of the nation’s best pitchers, if not one of the world’s best pitchers on the mound, competing for you, even if [her] gas tank, and she’ll never admit it, is not totally full, [you’ll be competitive]. What you saw today was nothing but heart, loyalty to her teammates, grit [and] determination. 

“She’s the pied piper on our team. How she goes, attitude every day which is incredible, our team goes. She just said ‘Let’s go I get you.’ And then there’s a certain point, just out of human nature and human physicality that you have to do something else, and she was really smart today … When George is on the mound we’re fortunate in that she gives her team a great opportunity … One of the best weekends I’ve ever seen out of a pitcher.”

The dominant pitcher gave her respect to the Gators after the game, and also expressed her appreciation for the ovation she received as she was taken out of the game in the seventh inning.

“It was definitely a heart-wrenching moment for me, especially coming out of the game. I threw most of the innings this weekend, [I] wanted to come in and I wanted to do that,” Corrick said. “I wanted to give it all and leave it all out on the line for my players and my team, and I know that they worked so hard to get here and I wanted to give them everything that I had.

“I think me coming out of the game at that moment, it was bigger than a team versus a team, it was bigger than colors versus colors … I thought that I gave everything that I could for that game and I think the UF fans saw it, the USF fans saw it, I hope people at home saw it. So coming off the field to that standing ovation meant a lot because it’s bigger than the sport, that’s people recognizing people and hard work recognizing hard work. It was a very, very touching moment for me and I really appreciated that.”

Ultimately, the Bulls were simply unable to get their bats going against junior pitcher Elizabeth Hightower, who kept the team hitless. The only USF players able to make their way onto the basepaths came via a trio of walks.

“She had it going,” Eriksen said of Hightower. “If I’m Elizabeth Hightower I don’t change because we kind of really didn’t change her. She was stubborn in respect to staying [with] what she did and I thought she did a really, really nice job of pinpointing pitches when she had to.”

Now that the season is officially over, Eriksen looked back on everything his team accomplished through the adversity of a COVID-19-altered season.

“I’ve never been through a year like [this] COVID year. We had 33 players … [and] two coaches, that’s unbelievable,” Eriksen said. “In actuality, we had 33 coaches and two guys that were able to go along with these 33 coaches and really turn it into one of the best years I’ve ever been involved with under all the adversity and controversy of what the pandemic put in front of us.”