Roundup: USF softball, baseball get weekend sweeps
Lots to catch up on from a busy weekend, and we'll save the spring football wrapups for another post(s) entirely. So we start with USF softball, which dominated Providence with a three-game sweep -- all shutouts -- that left the Bulls at 35-12, 13-1 in the Big East.
The three pitching gems? A two-hitter by Sara Nevins on Saturday, followed immediately by a five-inning no-hitter by Lindsey Richardson, then a five-hit shutout Sunday by Nevins and Sam Greiner. USF's pitching staff totaled 23 strikeouts against just two walks over the weekend, and if you want offense, Kourtney Salvarola hit her 13th home run of the season.
USF is now alone atop the Big East standings at 13-1, but Louisville, Notre Dame and DePaul are all 10-1, essentially just a weekend behind the Bulls, who have a huge series at DePaul this weekend. Those four are clearly the class of the league, as the next-closest team is Georgetown at 7-6 and the other eight teams in the conference have losing league records.
USF has the league's best staff ERA at 1.31, and perhaps more surprisingly, has the conference's second-best fielding percentage -- seems like a lot, but 42 errors in 47 games isn't a bad number. USF has the league's top three pitchers in ERA -- Nevins at 0.96, Richardson at 1.16 and Griner at 1.72, with Nevins second in wins (18) behind Louisville ace Rachel Le Coq (23-2). Salvarola continues to lead the conference in home runs.
Baseball also came through with a sweep at home, getting a break from Big East action with Alcorn State. The Bulls are 22-14 and riding an 8-game win streak, which is the program's longest win streak since 1997. Friday and Sunday's wins were routs, but the Bulls needed 14 innings on Saturday night, getting a walkoff home run from Alex Mendez to lead off the 14th.
The Bulls go to Stetson on Tuesday, then hit the road for a key weekend series at Connecticut. USF remains tied with Louisville at 7-2 for first in the Big East standings, but UConn is next at 8-4, tied with Rutgers.
Basketball? USF's men and women picked up commitments from junior college players, with the men getting a pledge from 6-foot combo guard Corey Allen from Mt. St. Antonio College in California, and the women getting a commitment from 6-3 center Ivana Vuletic, who is from Northeast Community College in Nebraska, born in Croatia and most recently iin Sweden.
Allen, who would be the seventh member of Stan Heath's incoming class, can play both guard positions and gives the balls a secondary ballhandler who can score and line up in the same backcourt with Anthony Collins. Counting returning players and incoming signees, USF would now be two scholarships over the limit, so Heath is anticipating some combination of players not returning or recruits not qualifying. My understand is that key signees (John Egbunu and Chris Perry) are both fine academically, and all signs still point to Victor Rudd returning for his senior year.
Vuletic is the fifth member of Jose Fernandez's incoming class, joining junior college guard Tamara Taylor and three incoming freshmen: Orlando guard Trimaine McCullough, Pensacola wing Jayla King and Ohio center Paige Cashin.