Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Colleges

Deep rotation gives USF softball high hopes

TAMPA

She has recorded more strikeouts than anyone in a Bulls softball uniform. In the 2012 Super Regional, she fanned 23 Hofstra hitters in 24 hours. Her next no-hitter will be the fifth of her college career.

And what has all that high-velocity brilliance earned LH senior Sara Nevins? An opening day start at home at 6 Thursday against No. 3 Florida. What happens beyond that, coach Ken Eriksen says, depends on performance and matchups.

"Right now Sara, she throws it pretty good," Eriksen said last week. "Not saying that somebody else isn't going to throw it better at the end of the year; we've had that happen before. That's my job, to make sure everything works out the right way."

A knock on Nevins? To the contrary: It's a testament to USF's staff, of which the former Pinellas Park standout is the clear cornerstone.

It might be the deepest of Eriksen's 18 seasons. Combine it with a lineup returning seven everyday starters from the 2013 Big East tournament championship club, and it's little wonder the fan base has its collective gaze on a second College World Series trip in three years.

USF is 23rd in the espn.com/USA Softball preseason poll.

"One will throw harder, one will throw more spin. One will kill you up, one will kill you down," senior 1B Stephanie Medina said. "It's just one of those things where it's exciting to know that no other team in the country has five pitchers that have what we have."

Among those behind Nevins (1.30 career ERA, 804 strikeouts): junior RH Sam Greiner (14-5, 1.66 ERA in two seasons), junior college transfer Karla Claudio (Puerto Rican national team) and sophomore LH Erica Nunn (3-2, 2.58 ERA in '13).

Freshman Susan Wysocki, a 6-foot Gold-level travel ball pitcher, could enter the mix. And Eriksen, who may be to pitchers what Steve Spurrier is to passers, won't hesitate to swap any out in the middle of an inning, or even the middle of a count.

Some, including Eriksen himself, suggest he'd make a move in mid-windup if it were permitted.

"You've got a pretty good pitching staff that can pitch with anybody in the country, so I'm not averse to using anybody in every situation," he said. "I'll do what it takes to win."

It all starts Thursday, and it starts with Nevins. From there, the starts are to be determined.

"The only thing batting average tells you and earned-run average tells you is what you did yesterday," Eriksen said. "I need you to do something today. So my job as a coach is to try to put the best team on the field to give those young ladies an opportunity to be successful."

FERNANDEZ DAY TO DAY: Women's basketball coach Jose Fernandez, hospitalized two days last week after a recurrence of diverticulitis (among other ailments), said Tuesday morning that he hopes to be on the bench for tonight's game at Memphis.

Fernandez, who missed Sunday's 79-59 loss at No. 4 Louisville and didn't travel Tuesday with the Bulls, said he also experienced inflammation in an area where he had a hernia removed in April, as well as a severe throat and mouth infection.

If "all goes well," he said, he'll be in Memphis in time for the shootaround.

SIGNING DAY SURGE?: Starting at 7 a.m. today, USF will live stream national signing day coverage at gousfsports.com, announcing signees as the school receives letters of intent.

The Times will provide updates and live coverage on its USF web page (tampabay.com/bulls) and via Twitter (@TBTimes_Bulls).

The Bulls, believed to have 25 oral commitments at this point, could finish with roughly 30 signees. Among those on their board: Jesuit LB Vincent Jackson, Immokalee RB D'Ernest Johnson, Sickles OLB/DE Josh Black and Miami Northwestern four-star WR JoJo Robinson.

Comments
Louisville must vacate 2013 basketball title, NCAA denies appeal

Louisville must vacate 2013 basketball title, NCAA denies appeal

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville must vacate its 2013 men’s basketball title following an NCAA appeals panel’s decision to uphold sanctions against the men’s program in the sex scandal case. The Cardinals will have to vacate 123 victories including the c...
Published: 02/20/18
Center Molly Franson’s value to UT is easily quantifiable

Center Molly Franson’s value to UT is easily quantifiable

TAMPA — Coaches often point to "intangibles" — the subtle positive qualities that usually don’t show up in the boxscore — when praising their key players.But University of Tampa women’s basketball coach Tom Jessee has a different definition when desc...
Published: 02/13/18
FSU holds off rally in hard-fought win over Louisville

FSU holds off rally in hard-fought win over Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Terance Mann couldn’t mope over two missed free throws that could have sealed Florida State’s victory. There was still work to do on the other end to make sure Louisville didn’t take advantage. The junior guard quickly redeemed hims...
Updated one month ago
No. 23 Florida clobbered at home by Alabama

No. 23 Florida clobbered at home by Alabama

GAINESVILLE — Mike White hung his head.Florida’s coach scuffed his shoes against the hardwood, screamed into his hands and watched as his team let Saturday’s game slip away.With Alabama on a seven-point run 11 minutes into the second half, the Gators...
Updated one month ago

USF Bulls fall to Memphis

TAMPA — From its two-point home loss against UCF to its victory at Tulane, USF recently had provided its fan base encouragement in spurts. Similarly, its interior defense against Memphis on Wednesday night also came and went.With 6-foot-3 Tigers guar...
Updated one month ago
Florida’s shooting goes cold in road loss to Georgia

Florida’s shooting goes cold in road loss to Georgia

ATHENS, Ga. — The repeated misses were bad for No. 23 Florida. The failure to rebound them made the offensive struggles even more painful. Yante Maten scored 20 and Georgia recovered after blowing a halftime lead to beat the Gators 72-60 on Tuesday n...
Updated one month ago

Florida State beats Miami in OT despite 17 Hurricanes 3-pointers

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton and Miami’s Jim Larranaga both have at least 33 years of college basketball coaching experience under their belts.Both might have experienced a first during their matchup Saturday.FSU and Miami needed a ...
Updated one month ago
Chris Chiozza scores 20 as No. 20 Florida routs Baylor

Chris Chiozza scores 20 as No. 20 Florida routs Baylor

GAINESVILLE — Florida point guard Chris Chiozza was feeling it, so he went with the flow.A pass-first point guard by nature, Chiozza decided to stay aggressive as a scorer and see what happened.The Gators were glad he did.Chiozza finished the 20th-ra...
Updated one month ago
Pro Bowl to honor UCF for undefeated season

Pro Bowl to honor UCF for undefeated season

ORLANDO — The NFL plans to recognize UCF’s 13-0 season during today’s Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium.Players have been invited to walk out on the field for a celebration after the first quarter."When we thought about UCF and the amazing season the...
Updated one month ago
Michigan State athletic director retires in wake of scathing ESPN report

Michigan State athletic director retires in wake of scathing ESPN report

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis announced his retirement Friday, the day an explosive ESPN story detailing a number of allegations of sexual assault and violent attacks on women occurred with Spartan athletes.Hollis...
Updated one month ago