Freshman standouts fuel USF softball's 4-0 start
USF softball takes a 4-0 record into this afternoon's showdown with Florida at 1 p.m. in Clearwater, and Ken Eriksen's talented freshmen have been leading the way in the Bulls' strong start.
Two Bulls rookies have stood out most -- pitcher Sara Nevins, the lefty from Pinellas Park, has pitched in every game, piling up a win and two saves while striking out 21 batters, and shortstop Kourtney Salvarola, batting second, has gone 7-for-12 (.583) with a team-best eight RBIs. Another freshman, Tampa Chamberlain's Stephanie Medina, is 4-for-14 with four RBIs while batting cleanup, and twin sisters Ashli and Courtney Goff of Sickles, have both played, with Goff going 3-for-7 while hitting at the bottom of the Bulls' batting order.
Nevins may be the most impressive, allowing just two runs on six hits in 12 innings. In her only start, she struck out 13 batters against Florida Gulf Coast. The rest of the staff has had mixed results -- junior Capri Catalano, bouncing back from injuries last season, hasn't given up a run in five innings, but has allowed seven hits; sophomore Lindsey Richardson has given up 11 hits in nine innings with three earned runs. Junior Brittany Bowles has struggled early, with six hits and five earned runs in two innings, walking four and striking out none.
The 4-0 mark matches USF's best start since 2003, and a win Saturday would give the Bulls their first 5-0 start since 1997, when they opened 9-0 in Eriksen's first season. The Bulls have a tough challenge today in No. 5 Florida, which is also 4-0 in the tournament and has outscored its opponents 41-4, including a five-inning perfect game by Stephanie Brombacher against N.C. State.