Bulls earn 2-1 softball win over Georgia Southern in nine-inning thriller
VIDEO BELOW: Ken Eriksen talks about tonight's victory over Georgia Southern
After suffering an 11-1 loss to the Florida Gators (54-7) in the first game of the Gainesville Regional Saturday afternoon, USF (45-15) survived a nine-inning thriller Saturday night, earning a 2-1 win over Georgia Southern to advance to today’s 1 p.m. regional final.
“I think it goes without saying that Georgia Southern’s kids today played their butts off,” USF coach Ken Eriksen said. “. . They were relentless in that game.”
The Bulls took a 1-0 lead in the second, and held it until Georgia Southern tied the game in the sixth after a leadoff triple by Alexa Lewis, who later scored off a single from Shelby Morrill.
As he has so many times this season, Eriksen relied on the one-two combination of pitchers Sara Nevins and Lindsey Richardson, but it was Richardson who came up huge in the bottom of the eighth. She entered the game with bases loaded and one out, struck out Kaitlyn Johnson looking, then on a full count forced A.J. Hamilton into a 4-3 play to end the inning and the Eagles’ threat to win the game.
“I kind of made a deal with God, this is not how I’m going out, this isn’t going to be it for me,'' Richardson said. "And I was pretty confident in everybody behind me, and I knew if I just did my job it was going to happen.”
In the ninth, Dani Wayt singled, then later stole third and scored the winning run on a throwing error by Hamilton, the catcher.
"I got two strikes on me so I know I wasn't going to watch that third one go by," Wayt said. "I had watched the first two, so I wasn't going to watch that third one. And then I took advantage of the ball in the dirt, the passed ball (at second), and then coach saw the advantage of being able to get to third safely and then they overthrew it. I heard coach say , Go, and then when I was almost there, he said hurry."
Added Eriksen: "Way to clean it up, Dani."
Richardson said she doens't believe fatigue will be a factor against the Gators, even though Florida played just one game - early in the afternoon.
"I think they (Florida) probably had a relaxed day and we really didn't so there's a difference there,'' Richardson said. "But coming off of a win like this, that's awesome. It makes me want to turn around and play another game right now. The adrenaline is up, we're so excited, we're pumped. That was an awesome win right there. I think that's definitely going to carry over for us tomorrow. We're definitely going to get back on the field and the last time we were on this field look what happened: we came back in the ninth of tenth inning and it was an awesome win (last year's NCAA regional win). I think we're definitely going to use that. And it was only one extra game. We've played a lot. I think we'll be alright."
More from Eriksen on the victory: