USF softball began its season strong in the USF-Rawlings Invitational, winning three of four over the weekend. The Bulls (3-1) played some of the country’s elite softball teams and powered through until the last day.
USF 9, Illinois State 2
On Thursday, the Bulls started with a 9-2 win against the Illinois State (0-4) Redbirds. It was no surprise that senior pitcher Georgina Corrick took the mound to open the game as USF’s ace.
In her five innings of work, she stayed strong for the most part until the top of the second when the Redbirds grasped an early 2-0 lead.
“I slipped up. I wasn’t at the peak of my game,” Corrick said. “The good news is, in a team sport you don’t always have to be. There are girls there to pick you up, even the girls that are not on the field.”
The Bulls did just that, responding with four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Sophomore Vivian Ponn started the rally with an RBI single and the hits continued after each batter up.
Although USF grabbed the win, the defense struggled, committing three errors on the field. Coach Ken Eriksen saw this game as a learning curve of where his team needs to grow early on.
“It shows you we have a long way to go in respect of playing the game clean, all the way from the first pitch to the last pitch,” he said.
USF 10, Kansas City 4
The Bulls continued their tournament with another high-scoring 10-4 win against the Kansas City Roos (1-4) on Friday.
The game started with four USF runs in the first inning alone, but saw that lead dwindle in the bottom in the next frame.
Junior pitcher Camryn Dolby started the game where she let up three walks and hit two batters. The Roos eventually scored three runs in the top of the second inning.
Dolby was ultimately relieved by senior Erin Poeppin, who came out to clean up the damage. She kept the Roos controlled for 3.2 innings and claimed her first win as a USF pitcher.
With 12 hits and 10 runs for the Bulls on the scoreboard, USF only let up one more run through the rest of the game.
USF 4, Michigan 1
Coming off a loss to Florida in their first game of a doubleheader, the No. 13 Wolverines (3-2) couldn’t hang with a fresh Bulls squad playing their only game of the day on Saturday.
USF kicked off the first inning with a three-run homer from sophomore catcher Josie Foreman that hit the left-field batting facility.
“I feel like I’ve been seeing the ball really well lately,” Foreman said. “The girls came in and told me some stuff about the pitcher so I made the adjustments and then as soon as I hit it, I knew.
“I looked at it and I was like, ‘Oh yeah.’ It was a good feeling. It was cool, especially since Michigan is such a good team, so it was a neat experience.”
Senior infielder Madison Epperson also had a day with a solo home run in the fourth inning, bringing in USF’s last run of the day.
Corrick made another start and etched her name in the record books in the sixth inning as the AAC’s all-time leader in strikeouts at 904. She recorded 11 total strikeouts and a complete game, keeping the Wolverines at bay.
“It’s really exciting having a stat like that, but obviously it’s a huge number because we come out and we work every single day,” she said. “It’s [obviously] a huge result to have such a great game against Michigan, and to have the strikeouts add up like that.”
Florida 12, USF 0
The No. 5 Gators (4-0) displayed their dominance against the Bulls on Sunday afternoon in a Sunshine State showdown.
Opening the game in the circle, Dolby pitched the first inning, but was quickly replaced in the second by Poepping, where she struggled with her command allowing six runs to the Gators.
The Bulls tried a new pitcher in every inning against UF’s lineup. Meanwhile, the USF offense struggled against one of the SEC’s best pitchers in senior Elizabeth Hightower. She had a 1.61 ERA and 156.2 innings pitched paired with 121 strikeouts in 2021.
Eriksen, however, saw the main challenge in the fielding and pitching rather than the hitting against Florida.
“It really wasn’t so much on the hitters’ part,” he said. “When you get down as much as we got down because of walks, hit by pitches, behind an account all day long. If our pitchers do what they do it’s a little bit of a different ballgame.”
For the Bulls to rebound from the loss and build on their victories in the St. Pete/ Clearwater Elite Invitational, Eriksen said the team needs to implement the takeaways from this game and translate them to next weekend.
“You got to learn to be mature and come off a win like yesterday and keep your energy going through today,” Eriksen said. “I’m looking forward to next weekend and actually for practice Tuesday because that’s where you find out who you are.”
USF softball will play in the St. Pete/ Clearwater Elite Invitational starting Friday at 3 p.m. against Notre Dame at the Eddie C. Moore Complex. The game will be broadcasted on the ACC Network.