Another record-breaking weekend for USF softball

Junior outfielder Alexis Johns broke the program’s single-season record for stolen bases on Friday with her 39th of the season. As of Sunday, she has totaled 42 so far this season. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

After sweeping East Carolina last week, USF continued its upward trend in AAC play, taking two of three games against Wichita State this weekend.

The Shockers (21-13) were last year’s AAC champions, but couldn’t hang with a Bulls (33-11) team that has now won five of its last six games.

Senior pitcher Georgina Corrick and junior outfielder Alexis Johns made headlines on Friday by breaking program records for career wins and single-season stolen bases, respectively.

Despite the milestones, coach Ken Eriksen felt the team was far from its best over the three games, and it finally caught up to them in the final game of the series.

“We actually didn’t play very well for three games and we got two victories out of the first two games,” he said following Sunday’s 2-1 loss. “We did not play good softball all weekend long. We kind of let them back in the game on Friday with errors and non-execution. Then [Saturday], we didn’t execute again on the crucial situations when you have to do things. Today was obvious, we didn’t execute at all.”

USF 7, Wichita State 3

Johns entered Friday tied for the single-season base stealing record, set by former Bull AnaMarie Bruni, who stole 38 bases in the 2021 season.

Johns wasted no time rewriting the history books, leading off the game with a single and stealing second base shortly after. For the base thief, the act of stealing begins way before she reaches base. 

“It all starts in the batter’s box, honestly,” Johns said. “You have to get on to be able to do that. I can get on and start momentum for the team. After getting on, if coach gives me the opportunity, I will most likely steal. It’s just something that I’m confident in doing because it’s one more base toward home, it’s good for the team.”

Johns scored in the same inning thanks to a two-run double by senior infielder Madison Epperson. The Bulls continued putting runs on the board with a two-run homer by sophomore infielder Alanah Rivera. By the second inning, USF was ahead 5-0. 

Not to be outdone by Johns, Corrick set a record of her own with career win No. 102, surpassing the mark previously set by Sara Nevins in 2014. 

Corrick finished yet another complete game by striking out 14 batters and allowing just one earned run in her 26th win of the season.

USF 5, Wichita State 3

USF had a closer battle on Saturday with back-to-back runs from both teams in the third inning, but the Bulls came out victorious in the end. 

The Shockers put themselves on the board first, but USF bounced back to take a 3-1 lead with a RBI single from Johns and a two-run homer by junior infielder Megan Pierro in the bottom half of the inning. 

Wichita State came back with an explosive fifth inning to tie the game 3-3, matching USF’s third-inning production with a home run and a RBI single. 

The Bulls were able to keep the Shockers quiet for the remainder of the game after junior infielder Dezarae Maldonado’s two-run double in the sixth gave the Bulls a lead they would not relinquish. 

Wichita State 2, USF 1

Sunday’s game proved to be a pitcher’s duel as both teams struggled to get much going offensively.

The Bulls put a run on the scoreboard early in the first with a RBI double from redshirt sophomore Meghan Sheehan, but the game went quiet for three straight innings after.  

While the Shockers tied it up with a solo home run in the fourth inning and took the lead with another in the sixth, the Bulls’ bats went cold. A drought like Sunday’s is unlike them, according to Johns.

“Friday and Saturday, I think we came out and our bats were a lot more popping,” she said.  “Today we were kind of hesitant at the plate, but our team just has so much talent and I think when we start producing more consistently, we’re going to be in good shape.”

The next stop for USF is a midweek doubleheader against Florida A&M and Jacksonville on April 13, as well as a trip to Florida on April 20. The Bulls have a lot to figure out about themselves before embarking on the road trip, according to Eriksen.

“I think we need to have a gut check,” he said. “Find out exactly where we are as far as trying to beat other teams instead of worrying about our non-successes. This is a game of opportunity. It’s not a game of failure, and we need to change the mentalities.”

The Bulls will return home on April 29 for a three-game series against Houston that starts Friday at 4 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and iHeartRadio Bulls Unlimited.