USF softball's dominant pitching hasn't dropped off a bit, as the Bulls' Lindsey Richardson and Sara Nevins combined for 18 strikeouts and a one-hit shutout, helping the Bulls to a 1-0 victory over Georgia Southern to open the NCAA regional in Gainesville.
All four Bulls hits came from twin sisters Ashli and Courtney Goff, who both had hits in the bottom of the eighth inning, with Ashli scoring the game's only run on a squeeze bunt by Kourtney Salvarola. The win was the Bulls' fourth shutout in a row, following three in the Big East tournament in Tampa.
The Bulls (44-14) advance to play Saturday against the winner of tonight's game host Florida and Hampton, with Saturday's winner advancing to Sunday's regional final. Times staff writer Antonya English is covering the game in Gainesville and will have a full story later. …
TAMPA -- Darryl "Cuda" Patterson, a point guard who played with Charlie Bradley at Robinson and USF in the early 1980s, died Wednesday night after battling a rare blood disorder. He was 49.
"Cuda was one of the nicest kids you'd ever want to meet. A wonderful, soft-spoken person," former Bulls coach Lee Rose said Thursday. "He was never a minute's problem in any way for me. Players all liked him, somebody they all admired."
Mr. Patterson was a star at Robinson, and after two years at Florida College, rejoined his friend and teammate Bradley for two seasons at USF from 1983-85. He averaged 12 points a game as a senior, helping the Bulls to their first-ever win at Madison Square Garden with 21 points in a win against St. Peter's, including 10 points in the final six minutes.
Bradley said Mr. Patterson helped him fall in love with the sport they would play together, starting with playground courts at the Ybor City Boys & Girls Club. …
It's been online since yesterday and will be in Friday's paper, so I'm both early and late in sharing a link to this feature on twin sisters Ashli and Courtney Goff, who have provided a spark to USF's softball team as the Bulls seek a return to the College World Series.
USF opens play in the NCAA regional in Gainesville on Friday afternoon, and the Goffs -- first and second on the team in steals while hitting at the bottom of the Bulls' lineup -- have come through with clutch plays for their hometown team, especially in Saturday's win against Notre Dame for a Big East championship.
-- Worth noting that USF men's golf made a strong debut at NCAA regionals in Tallahassee -- Bulls are tied for fourth out of 13 teams after the opening round. Chase Koepka and Richard James shot 4-under 68s and Trey Valentine shot 3 under, putting the Bulls in good position, with the top five schools advancing to the NCAA finals after Saturday's final round.
Want to talk about the USF baseball or softball teams? Bulls that were or weren't taken in the NFL draft? The recently announced football series with Florida State? Whatever's on your mind, join Times beat reporter Greg Auman for a live chat today, starting at 12:30 p.m.
Former Penn State quarterback Steven Bench made an official visit to USF this week, and while the transfer still has two visits scheduled in the next week, he said he left Tampa impressed by the excitement around first-year coach Willie Taggart.
"Everywhere you went, there was really a sense of excitement," Bench said by phone Wednesday. "Whether it was in the coach's voice or the player's voice, whoever you talked to, if you were on campus, there was just kind of this buzz about it, and that really stood out. It was really special."
Bench will visit N.C. State this weekend, then Mississippi State on Monday-Tuesday, and said he could make a decision by the end of next week, but didn't want to commit to any firm timetable. He said he spent time with "most of the players," including tight end Sean Price, who went to dinner with him one night.
"It was really impressive down there, a great visit, went really, really well," said Bench, who played sparingly as a true freshman last fall but can transfer and play this fall due to Penn State's NCAA sanctions. He'll have three years of eligibility at his new school. …
USF's final Big East series of the regular season opens Thursday night against Rutgers, and Wednesday's Times has a feature on freshman phenom Jimmy Herget, who is embracing his role as USF's No. 1 starter and is sporting the Big East's lowest ERA.
The former Jefferson standout talks about the Bulls' NCAA hopes, how strongly he considered accepting a contract to play pro baseball last summer and his progress under first-year pitching coach Lance Carter.
It's certainly too close to call, but Perfectgame.org still has USF in the NCAA field as one of the final two at-large berths, but the Bulls likely need a strong finish, both against Rutgers and next week in the Big East tournament in Clearwater to be confident of making the cut.
Shaun Noriega was limited to eight games as a senior in 2012-13 due to a stress fracture in his foot.
USF guard Shaun Noriega, who missed most of last season with a foot injury and is likely to get a medical redshirt from the NCAA, won't be back with the Bulls next season.
Noriega, limited to eight games as a senior in 2012-13 due to a stress fracture in his foot, should be eligible for a medical redshirt, but hasn't been officially granted another year of eligibility. He graduated from USF last week, so he'll be eligible to transfer and play his final season anywhere that has a graduate program not offered by USF, if he so chooses.
Noriega started 25 games in his four seasons with the Bulls, hitting 36 percent of his 3-point attempts over his career. The graduate of North Port High School, near Sarasota, flashed the potential for serious streak shooting, as seen in two memorable wins during his Bulls career. …
Want to talk about the USF baseball or softball teams? Bulls that were or weren't taken in the NFL draft? The recently announced football series with Florida State? Whatever's on your mind, join Times beat reporter Greg Auman for a live chat Thursday, May 16, starting at 12:30 p.m.
Running back Willie Davis breaks a hole through during USF's spring game in April.
USF football has landed another home-and-home series with Florida State, with the Bulls going to Tallahasee in 2015 and the Seminoles returning to Tampa in 2016, adding a new chapter to a promising young in-state rivalry.
The two teams played in 2009 and 2012, with USF scoring an upset win at Doak Campbell Stadium and FSU getting its revenge last season with a 30-17 victory at Raymond James Stadium.
"The two previous games provided such great atmospheres for both of our fan bases that it was important for us to extend the series," USF athletic director Doug Woolard said in a statement. "Combined with our recent nonconference scheduling announcements, we're very pleased with how our future schedules have come together."
The FSU announcement comes less than a month after USF announced home-and-home series with Wisconsin and Maryland of the Big Ten between 2014-17. The initial FSU game will cap a tough three-week stretch for the Bulls in September 2015, immediately following a home game against Indiana and a game at Maryland, with kickoff in Tallahassee on Sept. 26, 2015. …
For the second year in a row, USF softball's path to Oklahoma City and the College World Series will start up the road in Gainesville, where the No. 2 seed Gators will host the Bulls this weekend.
USF (43-14) earned a Big East championship on Sunday, and the Bulls will open regional play Friday against Georgia Southern. Florida plays host to Hampton, and the Bulls will try to emerge from Gainesville, as they did with a 1-0 win last season.
The Bulls were one of three Big East teams in the field, along with Louisville -- which has the No. 15 seed and will meet the winner of the Gainesville regional if the Cards advance -- and regular-season league champion Notre Dame.
USF played the Gators twice this season, losing a close 3-1 game in Tampa, then a 9-1 mercy-rule game in Gainesville. USF got a 1-0 win in Gainesville last season to advance to Super Regionals, where they edged Hofstra for the right to go to Oklahoma City. The Bulls posted three straight shutouts to win the Big East tournament this weekend, with ace Sara Nevins throwing a combined 22.2 innings of scoreless baseball to earn all three wins.
TAMPA -- USF softball has its first-ever Big East championship, outlasting top-seeded Notre Dame with a 10-inning, 1-0 win for the Bulls' third consecutive shutout that officially sends USF to the NCAA regionals.
Junior lefty Sara Nevins dominated for the third day in a row, striking out 12 and outpitching Big East Player of the Year Laura Winter, who matched the Pinellas Park graduate well into extra innings in a thrilling pitchers' duel.
"What was it, (22) and two-thirds innings of shutout ball? That's pretty impressive to me," coach Ken Eriksen said. "This is the last of the Big East tournaments that's going to have everybody ... we beat one of the best softball lineups in Big East history with Louisville, Notre Dame, DePaul. For us to come out on top in the last one, that says a lot."
USF broke through for the game's only run in the 10th, when freshman catcher Lee Ann Spivey led off with a ground ball to third, and the throw sailed wide, putting her at second base. Another freshman, Mo Santos, singled and USF had runners at second and third when outfielder Ashli Goff singled off Winter's leg for a long-awaited RBI. …
While USF softball is playing at home today at 4 for a Big East title, the Bulls' baseball team will try to bounce back from a pair of one-run losses at Seton Hall on Friday.
The Bulls (32-18, 15-5) dropped from first place to fourth place in the league standings but remain just two losses out of first place as Pittsburgh (15-3) and Louisville (14-4) didn't play Friday and have separate doubleheaders today. Because USF swept Pitt -- and because the Panthers and Cards play each other three times next weekend -- the Bulls are still very much in play for the regular-season title.
Friday's losses were close -- the Bulls led the first game 1-0 and starter Jimmy Herget took a shutout into the seventh, only to see the Pirates rally for two runs. USF rallied to tie the game in the eighth, only to see Seton Hall answer with a run in the bottom of the inning. …
TAMPA -- Louisville softball came into Friday's Big East semifinals with a potent lineup, hitting .340 as a team and averaging nearly seven runs a game.
The Cards, who hadn't been shut out in their last 41 games, ran into USF junior Sara Nevins, who dominated with a three-hit shutout, sending the Bulls into Saturday's Big East championship game against top-seeded Notre Dame.
"It's that old adage that good pitching stops good hitting, all the time," coach Ken Eriksen said. "I'll put that pitching staff we have up against anybody in the country."
USF (42-14) struck for three runs on all three of their hits in the third inning, getting an RBI double from shortstop Kourtney Salvarola, then a two-run single by Kenshyra Jackson, whose biggest play might have come in the field. Louisville (46-11) had the bases loaded in the third, and Jackson made a diving grab of a line drive in foul territory to end the threat. …
TAMPA -- USF pitcher Sara Nevins didn't have a familiar face in the stands Thursday night, but she took the ball and pitched six shutout innings, delivering a gem in the Bulls' 3-0 win against Providence in the Big East tournament, two nights after her father Joe suffered a heart attack.
"For Sara Nevins to come out on a long day like that and tell me she wanted the ball tonight, that she was OK ... she was phenenomal," coach Ken Eriksen said. "That was a lot of emotion today."
Nevins, a junior from Pinellas Park, spent time Thursday morning with her father, who underwent successful bypass heart surgery on Thursday afternoon. Nevins is known for being able to play emotionless during games, but Thursday was a challenge she hadn't faced before.
"I thought about him. He told me to make sure I pitched well, to do it for him," said Nevins, a junior left-hander who was named Big East Pitcher of the Year on Wednesday.
Fresh off a Big East championship, USF's men's golf team swept the conference's postseason honors Thursday, with Chase Koepka getting the league's Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year awards and the Bulls' Chris Malloy being honored as Coach of the Year.
Koepka, who finished second individually in leading the Bulls to a Big East title at Reunion, is the first golfer to take both postseason honors in the same season. The Bulls had last year's top freshman as well in current sophomore Trey Valentine. Three Bulls players were named to the 16-player All-Big East team: Koepka, Valentine and junior Richard James.
Interestingly, Koepka swept the league's two major individual awards, but wasn't a unanimous selection to the All-Big East team; Valentine was one of four golfers that were unanimous picks. USF starts play in the NCAA regionals one week from today in Tallahassee.
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