It's easy to see that University of South Florida baseball coach EddieCardieri is pleased with his team's play this young season - so far.
The Bulls, ranked No. 23 nationally, were 4-1 entering a game against Florida on Friday and had won two straight, including a big win over Miami last week.
USF completes its three-game series against the No. 17 Gators today at Al Lang Stadium at 2 p.m. and in Gainesville on Sunday. All seats at Al Lang will be general admission and cost $4 for non-students;
students will be admitted free.
Both games can be seen on SportsChannel.
"At this point, we're playing pretty good," Cardieri said. "We're playing real good defense, and we've cut back on the number of walks we gave up in the first two games (19 then, 10 in the next three games). We've got a lot of guys who are really playing well."
Senior outfielder Ken Demske entered Friday hitting .625 with nine runs batted in and a .938 slugging percentage. Junior designated hitter Alex Moreno and senior third baseman Ricky Ware both were batting .357.
Junior outfielder Rodney Mayers, the leadoff batter, was hitting .342 with seven runs batted in. Shortstop Paul Roberts, a freshman from St. Petersburg Northeast High, was hitting .333.
As a team, the Bulls were batting .328, and that's with established hitters Troy Rusk (the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year in 1989), Joe Lis and Kevin Dattola all below .270.
"Those guys are proven, and they're getting it going now," Cardieri said. "Their timing was a little off, but I'm not concerned about them."
Cardieri isn't concerned about his bullpen, either. That phase of the game has been nearly flawless, especially senior Bob Undorf (2-0, 0.00 earned-run average through Thursday) and junior Jamie Allen (1.69 ERA).
Although senior ace Jim Jimaki has struggled in his two starts (five runs in 4 2/3 innings), he has been victimized more by his control (six walks) than by opposing hitters. Cardieri said Jimaki will find his form soon - perhaps against Florida this weekend.
"This will be a good test for us," Cardieri said. "It's early in the season, but Florida is a top-20 team and it's always exciting to play the Gators."
Building for the future: Coaches routinely avoid talking about next year when this year isn't over. But USF women's basketball coach Trudi Lacey can't help but ponder the future.
It's a brighter time, she hopes.
USF, usually employing a lineup of a junior, three sophomores and a freshman, has compiled a 9-14 record. Lacey hopes the group of toddlers can gain some momentum in its final three regular-season games.
The Bulls play host to Charleston today at 5 p.m. in the Sun Dome, then to Old Dominion next Saturday. They visit Miami on March 3. The Sun Belt Conference tournament is March 8-10 in Norfolk, Va. "If we play well in our last three games and finish up strong, we might be able to carry that over to next year," Lacey said, "and we have had some bright spots."
Sophomore guard Angie Snyder continues to lead the team in most offensive categories. She is averaging 19.7 points a game on 48.1 shooting from the floor and 86.2 percent from the line. She scored a career-high 33 points in a 90-56 win over Florida Southern on Tuesday.
Freshman forward Stefanie Preston has come back strong from a four-game suspension. She had 20 points and 21 rebounds against Florida Southern and has 37 points and 41 rebounds in the past three games.
Junior guard Jackie Eisenhauer, averaging 12.1 points, scored nine against Florida Southern for a career total of 1,007. That's sixth on the school's all-time list.
Kicking up their heels: Former USF soccer stars Michael Bates, Craig Fossett and Giles Hooper impressed Tampa Bay Rowdies general manager Rodney Marsh enough at an open tryout last week to merit another look, Marsh said.