Nevins' no-hitter continues softball's surge
USF junior Sara Nevins earned her first no-hitter of the season Saturday, striking out 12 Pittsburgh batters in the first of two road wins for the Bulls, who have now won 25 of their last 26 and are tied for first in the Big East standings.
USF (31-11, 9-1) has seen dominating consistency from its pitching -- the Bulls entered the weekend with a 1.35 staff ERA, which is No. 2 nationally and more than half a run lower than its closest conference rival, and 333 strikeouts, which is 89 more than the closest Big East team.
Nevins threw three no-hitters and a perfect game in 2012, but Saturday was her first of 2013, against a Pitt team she no-hit last year as well. Four Bulls pitchers combined for a four-hitter in a 7-1 win in Saturday's second game, which saw shortstop Kourtney Salvarola hit her Big East-leading 12th home run. Stephanie Medina hit her seventh.
Lindsey Richardson dropped her ERA to 0.98 and Nevins to 1.09 entering Sunday's final game of the series -- Nevins has the team strikeout lead by one at 157-156, but she also has pitched 21 more innings. Richardson entered the weekend ninth nationally in strikeouts per seven innings and eighth in ERA, with Nevins 13th in ERA.
The Bulls have a major nonconference test on Wednesday, traveling to play Gainesville to play Florida, which handed the Bulls a 3-1 loss on Feb. 27 in Tampa. Florida is ranked No. 3 in both the coaches and ESPN.com rankings, while USF's strong play in the last month hasn't gotten them back in the top 25 yet.
BASEBALL: Not to be outdone, USF baseball is also tied for first in the Big East standings with a 6-2 league mark, after an improbable win Saturday night on a walkoff ... hit by pitch.
Trailing 6-4 entering the bottom of the ninth, USF saw four Pitt pitchers combine for an implosion -- four walks (two intentional), two hit batsmen and a wild pitch, with the tying run coming on a bases-loaded walk and the winning run following when Zac Gilcrease was hit in the foot by a pitch. USF is now 17-14 and tied with Louisville and Rutgers for the conference lead.