Live blog: USF softball opens new stadium tonight
Big night on USF's campus as the softball program opens its new stadium -- coach Ken Eriksen has been waiting a long time for this, so a late half-hour bump in the first-pitch time won't bother him. I don't think there's enough of you out there to justify a Coveritlive chat, but I'll just throw things up here chronologically to give a sense of the feel of the new park ...
8:55 p.m.: Walked outside and missed the last few updates for you guys -- no-hitter was broken up with a single down the right-field line in the fourth, but USF got an 8-0 mercy-rule win in five innings, with Lindsey Richardson and Sara Nevins combining for a one-hitter. We'll get a story and video up shortly ...
8:15 p.m.: Lindsey Richardson gets a third 1-2-3 inning -- a well-hit ball to center for the third out, but Janine Richardson got under it for the out ... Kourtney Salvarola picks up her third RBI of the night with a single to right for 8-0 lead in bottom of the inning.
8:10 p.m. USF has broken this open early -- six runs (all with two outs) on six hits in the second. Gina Kafalas got it started with an RBI single, then Kourtney Salvarola added to her RBI lead with two on a single to right. Janine Richardson singled, Stephanie Medina hit a two-run double to the wall in right, and Erin Bly added another run. It could have been more, but Alexis Nowell struck out with the bases loaded to end the inning. Bulls now up 7-0, with CCSU still looking for its first hit.
7:50 p.m.: USF's softball field is close enough to Pizzo Elementary School that if a left-handed hitter crushed a ball down the rightfield line, it would take maybe 250 feet to reach the school. Unlikely for a softball game, but if the baseball guys came over, they could take a window with what would be warning-track power in their stadium. Lindsey Richardson gets another 1-2-3 inning in the second, with nice defense by shortstop Kourtney Salvarola and second baseman Erin Bly.
7:45 p.m.: The scoreboard USF is using tonight is actually a truck that's parked beyond centerfield -- I'm sure it'll drive over to baseball tomorrow night for its opener. USF briefly turned on its videoboard for a "Bulls Country" graphic between innings, but it still has a few panels that aren't working. It'll be able to show highlights once it's fully operational -- Lelo Prado said he'll be able to put USF basketball games on the screen when his team has batting practice at night.
7:40 p.m.: USF leadoff hitter Gina Kafalas is quick enough that both corner infielders are playing her in, as close as the mound. It's the right call, as she hits a two-strike chopper to third base for the Bulls' first out. Freshman Kourtney Salvarola, who was one of the nation's top recruits, walks as the first baserunner. Janine Richardson gets a bloop single to left for the first hit, and Stephanie Medina, another freshman, gets the first RBI with a ground ball to rightfield. The Bulls only get one run, as CCSU pulls off the 1-3-2 double play after transfer Erin Bly hits a comebacker to the circle.
7:30 p.m.: First pitch from Lindsey Richardson is a ball outside to Central Connecticut State's Becca Mussatti. The fourth pitch is a ground ball up the first-base line, fielded by USF's Stephanie Medina for the stadium's first out. Richardson gets the next two batters with strikeouts for a 1-2-3 first.
7:25 p.m.: Sophomore right-hander Lindsey Richardson gets the honor of having the first start in the new park -- she's also one of four players who have their own team calendars -- there's a "WANTED" theme with head shots of Richardson, Janine Richardson, Ilaura Reeves and one other I'm suddenly forgetting. USF is doing the same deal on the baseball side, with postcard-sized calendars for Randy Fontanez, Andrew Barbosa and Jonathan Koscso.
7:22 p.m.: There's a ton of USF softball alumni on hand for the stadium opening -- recent stars like Cristi Ecks and JoJo Medina, and two former players now on the coaching staff in Mo Triner and Stacey Heintz. They're throwing out a ceremonial first pitch before the game -- neat moment as Medina threw her pitch to her sister Stephanie, a freshman who is playing first and hitting cleanup this season.
7:20 p.m.: Best dressed person in attendance has to be Jason Prado, son of USF's baseball coach, Lelo Prado. Jason, who says he's channeling his inner Jay Wright in a gray suit, could get exciting news tonight -- he's been running for student body president, and the campus elections should be announced around 8:30 p.m. tonight.
7:15 p.m.: Amazing to see how much has been completed in the last 48 hours. I was here Tuesday at lunch and the stadium still needed a ton of work -- no netting behind home plate, lots of landscaping missing on the entrance to the park on the Sun Dome side of the stadium. The field itself looks very sharp -- the backup scoreboard filling in in centerfield still looks better than anything USF's had before. The video board in right field is huge (even though it's a quarter of the baseball counterpart) and should add a lot once it's up and ready to go.