OKLAHOMA CITY — USF's historic run to the softball College World Series ended Saturday by the smallest of margins. LSU eliminated the Bulls 1-0 on a run scored without a hit.
"You're in the final eight. You're going to see great pitching," USF coach Ken Eriksen said after each team totaled two hits in the elimination game. "You're going to see 0-0 games, and that one break is going to happen."
USF (50-14) was the third Big East team to make it to ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. In its Series debut, it lost 5-1 to Oklahoma on Thursday.
Saturday, pitcher Sara Nevins held LSU in check until the sixth inning.
A.J. Andrews, a graduate of Clearwater's Countryside High, led off and was hit by a pitch from the Pinellas Park High graduate. With one out, Eriksen turned to Lindsey Richardson on the mound. Her first batter, Ashley Langoni, sent a shot to deep right-centerfield that bounced in and out of centerfielder Janine Richardson's glove.
Richardson was charged with an error, which left runners on second third.
After another hit batter, LSU got its run in unusual fashion: Andrews tagged up on a popfly to the shortstop.
USF's Ashli Goff walked with two outs in the seventh. But the season ended when Gina Kafalas' bunt hit her after she left the batter's box.
"It was just a great experience for us," teary-eyed shortstop Kourtney Salvarola said. "This experience just helped us learn, get better and actually prove to ourselves … that we can play with these teams."
The Bulls were held to two hits by senior Brittany Mack. But they had opportunities:
• They had runners on first and second with no outs in the first.
• Kenshyra Jackson was caught stealing in the second.
• Goff was thrown out at home in the third.
• Jessica Mouse, a Chamberlain High graduate who played three seasons at LSU, struck out with runners on second and third to end the fifth.
After the game, LSU's players crowded around Mouse.
"LSU was crying their eyes out … because of Jess Mouse," Eriksen said. "That's a classy showing. How could you not be proud as an opposing coach of the other team?"
LSU's Andrews said she wasn't recruited by USF. But Eriksen said his 22 players are the only 22 he'd want.
"I wouldn't trade anybody on my team for anybody. Period. No way, no how," he said. "You've got to win it in the locker room first. And if you win it in the locker room, you win it on the ball field. And that team won in the locker room."