Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Deep rotation gives USF softball high hopes


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 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, announcing signees as the school receives letters of intent.

The Times will provide updates and live coverage on its USF web page ( 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.

Deep rotation gives USF softball high hopes 02/04/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 8:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Chasing 125: Bucs hope to hit rushing goal more often


    Ever so often, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter pulls back the curtain a bit and shares some of the stats that matter to him most as a coach.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017.
  2. Bucs-Jaguars was NFL's lowest-rated ESPN game since 2005


    It is just the preseason, and it is the Jaguars, but Thursday night's Bucs-Jags preseason game earned a 1.6 rating on ESPN, which is the lowest-rated preseason game (excluding NFL Network) in 12 years, according to Sports Media Watch.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, left, talks with coach Dirk Koetter during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
  3. Roberto Aguayo, Jonathan Drouin, Tim Beckham are coming for revenge


    Forget the Three Tenors.

    Make it the Three Terrors.

    The 2017 Unfulfilled Expectations Tour is about to hit Tampa Bay.

    From left, former Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo, ex-Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin and former Rays infielder Tim Beckham. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times; DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times; Getty Images]
  4. Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier is congratulated in the dugout after scoring on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Lucas Duda in the sixth inning of the game against the Seattle Mariners at Tropicana Field on Friday.
  5. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz celebrates his Trop-record 482-foot home run in the ninth inning.