May madness beckons for USF baseball, softball

USF seniors (L to R) Peter Strzelecki, Duke Stunkel Jr., Cameron Crabbe and Levi Borders were recognized before Sunday's home game against Memphis (JOEY KNIGHT | Times)
USF seniors (L to R) Peter Strzelecki, Duke Stunkel Jr., Cameron Crabbe and Levi Borders were recognized before Sunday's home game against Memphis (JOEY KNIGHT | Times)
Published April 30 2018

While neither USF basketball team offered the postseason exhilaration USF fans have craved, the Bulls' bat-and-ball teams appear ready to compensate.

May madness could be looming.

Entering the final stretch of their respective regular seasons, the Bulls baseball and softball teams appear not only in solid shape for NCAA Tournament berths, but are contending for No. 1 seeds in the upcoming conference tournaments.

After winning two of three at home against UCF over the weekend, the softball team (34-19, 12-6) leads Wichita State (29-18, 11-7) in the American Athletic Conference standings.

The top seed likely will be decided when the teams square off for three games this weekend in Tampa, beginning with Friday's 6:30 p.m. opener. The Bulls, 40th in the RPI, then host the conference tournament starting May 10, when an automatic NCAA Tournament berth will be at stake.

Meantime, the No. 23 baseball team (29-15, 11-7) trails Houston (28-16, 13-5) by two games in the league standings after taking two of three at home against Memphis over the weekend.

The Bulls, who began a bye week Monday, have won five of their six conference series so far, with two (at Wichita State, at Cincinnati) remaining. The Cougars host UCF (29-15, 9-9) this weekend before closing at Connecticut (25-13-1, 9-6).

The AAC baseball tournament begins May 22 in Clearwater. If they can maintain their solid RPI (27 according to d1Baseball.com) down the stretch, the Bulls should secure a third NCAA Tournament at-large berth in the last four seasons, though an AAC tourney title would give them an automatic berth.

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