Now, all the sports I've been neglecting ...

30

April

What with the NFL Draft and basketball recruiting and coaches considering jobs elsewhere, I really haven't been able to get good updates in here on the spring sports whose seasons are drawing to a close. Lots of you are clamoring for baseball, and we'll certainly have a lot on the Bulls as we get closer to the Big East baseball tournament in Clearwater in a few weeks ...

-- You'd be hard-pressed to find two hotter bats than freshmen Ryan Lockwood and Stephen Hunt, whose production at the plate has helped lift the Bulls into seventh place in the Big East standings. Lockwood will take a 27-game hit streak into a well-deserved weekend off for the Bulls, and Hunt had a ridiculous past week, going 12-for-21 with 13 RBIs, 11 runs and eight extra-base hits. As weeks go, that's a great month.

Only the top eight teams make the Big East tournament, but the Bulls are now three games up on ninth-place Connecticut. What makes things interesting is that USF finishes the season with series against St. John's and Notre Dame, the top two teams in the league standings. So the Bulls will need to fare well in those six games if they don't want to wind up facing one of those teams again in the opening round of the conference tournament.

Lockwood, for the record, has the Big East's highest batting average in conference play at .449, with junior Addison Maruszak second at .427. USF is pushing Lockwood for All-America honors, and he could follow Maruszak as a potential Big East Rookie of the Year. Hunt, despite only playing in 12 of USF's 21 league games, is third in the conference in RBIs with 20. As I said, we'll have much more baseball here in the coming weeks, including the injury updates you've been asking about ...

-- We ran a story Saturday on USF's softball team and how they've remained focused -- and winning -- since pitcher Cristi Ecks collapsed during a practice nearly a month ago. And that basically jinxed the Bulls, who had been 14-2 in league play but dropped a doubleheader to Louisville. USF is still atop the league standings, but just one game ahead of DePaul. The Bulls finish the season with doubleheaders this weekend at Providence and Connecticut and obviously can clinch the regular-season crown by winning out.

-- Kudos to men's and women's tennis, who both followed up Big East runner-up honors by earning berths in the NCAA Tournament, which was announced Tuesday. The women's team, making the NCAAs for the third year in a row, got a nice draw, as the No. 43 Bulls open with No. 19 Texas on Friday, May 9, in Tallahassee, with the potential to face 14th-seeded FSU in the second round. USF's men, in the NCAAs for the first time since 2003, are similarly ranked at No. 42 and face No. 19 Miami in Gainesville on May 10; next would be the 10th-seeded Gators in the second round.

-- The Big East, much like the NFL, announces home and away opponents before it releases dates, so we now know that USF's women's basketball team will get three Sweet 16 teams -- Connecticut, Louisville and Notre Dame -- at home next season, with two more in league road games. We broke news Monday about tough nonconference games against Cal, Iowa and Texas Tech, and Jose Fernandez isn't done with his schedule, so it'll be a challenging slate for Shantia Grace and Co. next season.

What else do you want to know? I've got an intriguing lead on a potential addition to the football roster and could have something up on that as early as this afternoon. Still haven't really written about watching Sunday's draft with Trae Williams, so I'll try to get to that as well.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:22pm]

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