USF softball sweeps Tulsa

Situational hitting turned out to be essential for the Bulls, as two of the three games were decided in a walk-off. ORACLE PHOTO/CARLEIGH BENEDICT

After being swept by Wichita State the week prior, South Florida quickly bounced back and took the upper hand in a series sweep against Tulsa. 

Although hitting was inconsistent throughout the series, the Bulls (24-18, 6-3 AAC) pitching and defense managed to shut down the Golden Hurricane (16-20, 2-4 AAC) batting order for most of the series.

Here’s how the Bulls performed in all three matchups:

USF 7, Tulsa 0

With an outstanding offensive performance, the Bulls recorded their first win of the series with a 7-0 shutout over the Golden Hurricane.

Power hitting was the highlight of the game, as senior utility Vivian Ponn and freshman infielder Kathy Garcia-Soto each hit a homer to record a combined five RBI. The remaining two runs scored were on groundouts in the first and third innings.

Ponn said the great offensive performance motivated her to perform well in the upcoming games and that she hopes the team will follow suit.

“I felt really good. I’m seeing the ball well right now, so I’m going to keep doing that throughout the weekend,” Ponn said. “It was really big for the team, a good confidence booster heading into the rest of conference play.”

Senior pitcher Gabriella Nori managed to put last week’s struggles behind her, as she tossed a complete-game shutout while striking out five batters and allowing just four hits in the contest. Tulsa struggled to get started on offense, as its first hit came in the fourth inning.

USF 2, Tulsa 1

In an unpredictable and hard-fought game, South Florida took the upper hand and secured the series on Friday with a 2-1 walk-off win.

Neither of the two squads were able to hit when it mattered and capitalize with runners on base. Both teams left seven runners stranded on base and were only able to score one run apiece throughout seven innings of play.

USF’s pitching staff struggled against the Golden Hurricane bats, as they surrendered six hits and did not record a single strikeout until the seventh inning. Tulsa managed to put a runner on base in every inning, but its deficient situational hitting and the Bulls’ clutch plays on defense limited them to just one run throughout the contest.

The Bulls walked it off in the eighth inning, after freshman utility Alexa Galligani hit a double to knock in the winning run from second.

Galligani explained how she kept her cool at the plate and came up clutch for South Florida.

“I wasn’t trying to do too much. At least in my last couple of at-bats I’ve been a little overwhelmed and jumping early on every pitch, and I’ve been trying to change that,” Galligani said.

“I was just trying to put the ball on the ground. Coach Eriksen told me to make something happen, and I did.”

USF 5, Tulsa 4

Despite falling behind 4-0 in the fifth inning, the Bulls persevered and walked the game off 5-4 to complete the series sweep.

All of Tulsa’s four runs came in the fifth inning, on a sacrifice fly by sophomore infielder Kailyn Bearpaw and a three-run shot by senior catcher Rylee Keith. Regardless, Nori had a solid start on the mound, allowing only one hit and striking out four before the inning.

Similar to the game on Friday, USF’s offense got off to a slow start, with their first hit being a solo shot by junior utility Marissa Trivelpiece in the fifth inning. However, the Bulls were able to turn things around in the late stages of the game, as they loaded the bases in the sixth and seventh innings.

Trivelpiece’s home run was important to the Bulls’ overall success.

“We just needed one to fall. We had a lot of good hits, but just couldn’t get one to fall,” Trivelpiece said. “I think it definitely got us going to bring home the win.”

South Florida was not able to produce anything in the sixth inning, as a controversial call by the third base umpire allowed Tulsa to escape the inning unharmed. In spite of that, the Bulls managed to collect four runs on five hits in the seventh to walk it off, capped off by an RBI single by redshirt junior catcher Rian Eigenmann.

Eigenmann said she did not let the moment get to her and that she is pleased with the outcome of the series.

“I just wanted to hit it somewhere on the ground and do the job. It’s difficult to hit in a situation like that, but I’ve done it a couple of times this year and have gotten used to it,” Eigenmann said. “I just tried to not make the situation bigger than it was and stay calm.”

“Especially coming off last week, it feels really good to bounce back and come back stronger,” she added.

The Bulls will head to DeLand on Wednesday to face the Stetson Hatters on a doubleheader. Both games will be broadcast on ESPN+.