Follow softball online, plus lots of links ...
USF softball opens play in the Big East tournament in Louisville today at 10 a.m. against fourth-seeded Syracuse, and fans can follow the game online at Bigeast.org, with live stats, a live blog and for $8, live video from the entire tournament.
USF has been in Kentucky since Monday, having bussed down after Sunday's doubleheader at Pittsburgh. The Bulls were able to practice on Louisville's campus, giving them a better feel for the field they'll play on today.
The two teams had nearly identical team ERAs in conference play, and it looks like one key statistic will be how well USF can play with runners in scoring position -- the Bulls had a much higher batting average (.290) than Syracuse (.269) in Big East games, but scored fewer runs. USF has to be careful about Syracuse's power -- the Orange had 17 home runs, seven more than the Bulls in conference play.
We'll update the game in progress in the comments here, and here are some links to catch up on news ...
-- ESPN.com blogger Brian Bennett is unveiling his top 30 Big East football players, one by one. Two Bulls have already made the list, with safety Nate Allen at No. 26 and receiver Jessie Hester at No. 21. If I'm guessing right, you'll see Matt Grothe and George Selvie both in the top five. Can't tell if he's going to include linebacker Kion Wilson between now and then -- I think he's probably more central to USF's 2009 success than Hester, if only because of the depth and talent at receiver around Hester.
-- Today's Sporting News Today has their top 100 football recruits for this fall, and to no surprise, there's a ton of Florida players on the list. Don't know that USF is in position to land any of them at this point, but the Bulls are certainly trying. USF's coaches hit the road Monday to begin spring evaluation for in-state recruits -- they likely won't have close to the maximum allotment of 25 scholarships because there are only 13 scholarship seniors on roster this fall.
-- The bling has arrived. USF got its bowl rings from the St. Petersburg Bowl and has pics on the official site. Why do I think this will generate more comments than anything else in the post today?
-- More track! The Orlando Sentinel reports that Chris Lickfield, defending Class 4A state champ in the discus, will make a track recruiting visit to USF this weekend after competing in his state meet in Winter Park. Again, we'll have updates from Winter Park on USF football signees Lindsey Lamar (sprints) and Kamran Joyer (shot/discus).
-- The Bradenton Herald has a good story on rising Manatee senior receiver Ace Sanders, a teammate of USF commitment Brion Carnes and a recruiting target of the Bulls.
-- Remember John Riek, the 7-footer who briefly considered USF last summer after dropping plans to enter the NBA Draft? He's headed to Mississippi State and drawing lofty comparisons to Hasheem Thabeet.
-- Should have an answer (finally) in the Robert Marve sweepstakes in the next few days. Plant coach Robert Weiner said it could be late this week or early next. This article talks a lot about Purdue, though his dad concedes he's still in "decision-orbiting mode."
-- The new interest in Jim Leavitt and his staff doing Twitter.com has helped the following for the Times' USF tweets at @gregauman. Fun to see which assistants are the busiest with Twitter -- who knew that offensive line coaches Mike Simmonds and Larry Scott, with 13 updates each, would be the chatterboxes? Florida has launched its own Twitter offensive at @coachurbanmeyer -- funny that Meyer is following @urbanmeyer, which appears to be a squatter, since it's never had an update and the only Tweet it's following is the Orlando Sentinel's Seminoles blog.