Softball rallies past Syracuse in extra innings
USF softball, held to one hit in the first six innings and down to their final strike in the seventh, rallied to force extra innings and edged Syracuse 5-4 to advance to the semifinals of the Big East tournament.
"It was a fun game to participate in, though I'm sure the fans and parents were biting their nails there at the end," coach Ken Eriksen said by phone. "We've done that all year, but I'd like to see us do it a little bit earlier. Big-time people do big-time things in big-time situations, and we got that from Cristi Ecks and Britta Giddens and JoJo Medina."
The Bulls trailed 1-0 in the seventh when Britta Giddens got a leadoff single and scored on a two-out single by Cat Olnick. USF nearly took the lead, but pinch-runner Lauren Rodriguez was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a pinch-hit single by Kendall Arnold to end the inning.
The tie carried to the ninth inning, when Giddens sparked the Bulls again. USF scored four runs, with first on a single by Medina and then three on a two-out, bases-loaded triple by Alison Savarese. Up 5-1, USF nearly lost the lead, as Syracuse scored three runs after a triple by Stephanie Watts. Ecks, who pitched the first four innings, re-entered the game and got the final out to clinch the Bulls' win.
USF now plays top-seeded DePaul, which eked past eighth-seeded Seton Hall with a 1-0 win on Thursday. USF lost both games at DePaul this season, one in nine innings, and Eriksen said he'll start either junior Kristen Gordon or freshman Candace Howell on Friday -- first pitch is at noon.
-- Some of you have asked whether Tyrone McKenzie's season-ending knee injury will impact him financially, since he has yet to sign his first contract with the Patriots. Waiting for a response from the league, but Profootballtalk.com has a good explanation of why McKenzie will get the same kind of contract from New England he would have gotten if healthy.
And a year spent on injured reserve still counts as an accrued season, so McKenzie will still be eligible for unrestricted free agency after four seasons, the same way he would if he played as a rookie.
-- Former USF standout Otis Dixon, recently head coach at Lakewood, will be the quarterbacks and running backs coach at Chamberlain this fall, the Times' Ed Encina reports. Encina also reports that Plant senior right-hander Jake Lowe is the latest Hillsborough County baseball star to commit to playing at USF next season.
-- Former USF cornerback Mike Jenkins, now with the Dallas Cowboys, has his own site now at Mikejenkins31.com, though the name makes less sense since the first blog post has Jenkins explaining that he's changing jersey numbers from 31 to 21 for the 2009 season. Somebody has parked Mikejenkins21.com through Godaddy.com, so it could be that Jenkins is changing URLs as well ...