TAMPA — USF senior C Laura Fountain celebrated with her softball teammates Saturday night as the Bulls became NCAA Super Region champions and then, after a quick overnight drive across the state, she celebrated another joyful first: Becoming an aunt.
Fountain, whose ninth-inning sacrifice fly was the winning margin in USF's Game 2 victory against Hofstra on Saturday, got a call at 1 a.m. Sunday that her sister, Jenna Hinely, was going into labor with her first child. Despite playing 27 innings of softball in the previous 30 hours, Fountain drove to Fort Lauderdale in time for the birth of her niece, Raelyn.
"Best weekend of my life," said Fountain, who got back to Tampa in time for USF's first practice Monday afternoon.
Fountain's parents, Ron and Barb, were as nervous as any fans at USF Softball Stadium, cheering for one daughter but also waiting for a phone call from the other. Jenna, who played softball at Lipscomb, had attended USF's regional wins in Gainesville and was planning to attend the weekend's games, but had to watch from a hospital bed.
"I think that's what probably put her into labor, with all the excitement," Laura said.
Fountain said the amazing weekend was still sinking in as she drove back to Tampa, but she can appreciate what the Bulls accomplished.
"People you didn't even know were coming up after the game and saying how proud they were of us," Fountain said. "It was such a cool moment because we just made history. We'll always be the first team to do this."
THIS AND THAT: USF will practice this morning before flying to Oklahoma City. The Bulls play at 1 p.m. against fourth-seeded Oklahoma to open double-elimination play, which continues through Sunday. The final two teams play a best-of-three series starting Monday. … USF could play its second game against the other unseeded team in the field, LSU. That will be special for Bulls senior Jessica Mouse, who was a three-year starter for LSU before transferring last summer. She has been trading good-luck messages with her former teammates. LSU made three NCAA regionals while Mouse played for the Tigers, but never reached the College World Series.