Nothing went right for the USF softball team this weekend. For the first time in four seasons the Bulls have lost five straight games, and now have most likely dropped out of the national rankings.
"I saw non-commitment to playing this game at a very high level," said head coach Ken Eriksen of the team's performance this weekend. "I think there are some revelations that need to go on today. I don't think you can let it go to a day off, today we have to address some issues."
USF (6-8) scored four total runs over the weekend. All of which were scored in the first match-up of the tournament against Southern Illinois (6-6), a game Eriksen referred to as a "debacle" and the "most embarrassing game" he's ever coached.
The Bulls lost 4-5, and had four hits and two errors. Sara Nevins started and pitched for five innings, and then Sam Greiner came in for a batter, followed by Erica Nunn. Greiner was credited with the loss, although she allowed two runs, none of them were earned.
After that game the Bulls were unable to score a run.
In game two on Friday the team faced No. 12 Louisiana-Lafayette (9-2). The Ragin' Cajuns scored two runs in the first, and then one in the fifth to beat the Bulls 3-0. All runs were against the starter Lindsey Richardson, who got the loss. Louisiana-Lafayette pitcher Christina Hamilton limited USF to two hits, striking out two, and walking two to get the complete game win.
Saturday was more of the same, as USF started off their day with a 1-0 loss to James Madison (7-2). The Dukes scored in the first inning on a two-out single by Jailyn Ford. Ford, who also pitched the whole game for JMU, was spectacular in the circle.
Again, the Bulls were held to only two hits, no walks, and six strikeouts. Ford got her third win of the season. Nevins settled in after the first and got the complete game loss. She moved to 2-2 on the season.
USF got six hits in their night game Saturday against UC-Davis (6-8), but again were unable to score losing 1-0.
Erica Nunn got the start in the circle and pitched a gem. She only allowed two hits, and one run, as she struck out four. Justine Vela got the complete game win for the Aggies.
On Sunday USF only had one game. Illinois State came in at 7-8 on the season. Through seven innings the Bulls had one hit (Monica Santos in the fifth), and left a blank spot on the scoreboard losing 7-0.
Richardson got the start, and for the first two innings was cruising. In the third the redbirds struck.
With the bases loaded Laura Canopy doubled up the left side scoring two. An out later Shelby Music added two RBIs of her own with a single.
Sam Greiner came in relief of Richardson in the fourth. With two outs and the bases loaded Canopy came up big for Illinois State again scoring two on a single. The Redbirds added another run in the fifth, and the Bulls were never able to recover.
When asked if he could take anything positive from the team this weekend Eriksen simply said no.
"We've failed to realize that last year was done on hard work," said Eriksen, "no superstars whatsoever, we got dirty every single day at practice like it's a ballgame, and we did not do that this week."
In the first 14 games of the season USF has only scored 31 total runs. At this point last year the team had scored 65 runs. So far the Bulls have left 70 base runners on base, and they have been doubled up seven times.
Base running has been an issue for the team. Both D'Anna Devine and Ilaura Reeves were doubled off when they got too far away from the base on fly balls against Illinois State. Devine was taken out of the game after that play.
The team as a whole is batting .230 with Kourtney Salvarola still leading the pack with a .371 average.
USF is playing behind almost every game. They have only scored first 4 times this season.
Offense is not the only problem. The Bulls have allowed the opposing team to score in the first inning seven times thus far. Obviously, that is HALF of the games played.
Although collectively the pitchers' ERA is only 1.92, opposing teams have outscored the Bulls 37-31.
Credit this to a whopping 11 errors that allowed 11 unearned runs to score. Shortstop Salvarola also leads this statistical category with four errors, followed by first baseman Stephanie Medina with three errors.
The next week of practice will be full of changes for the Bulls, as they try to figure out how to fix their team. They will have to work quickly. They are back on the field on Wednesday at the USF Softball Stadium to take on the No. 5 ranked Florida Gators at 6 p.m.