Despite the Bulls rough start to the season, USF head coach Lelo Prado is optimistic about the upcoming year.
"I think this team is going to be good." Said Prado, "I've said it from the beginning."
The Bulls went 1-2 in their opening weekend at the Big East-Big Ten Challenge. The Bulls struggled, losing by nine runs or more to both Louisville and Indiana. The only win of the weekend came in a blow out, 20-2, over Purdue on Saturday night. The weekend brought up a lot of concerns about the pitching for the Bulls' skipper.
"Our pitching is the biggest concern." Prado exclaimed, "I've said from day one it's figuring out whose who and whose healthy and we got to go up there ready to win."
The pitching did struggle for the Bulls, giving up 24 runs over the three games, ending the weekend with a 6.33 team ERA.
"We got to get our pitching down right." Prado said matter-of-factly.
There were some bright spots over the weekend for the Bulls, including junior lefthander Lawrence Pardo. The transfer dominated in his first appearance for USF, throwing 3.2 scoreless innings, striking out three.
"He [Pardo] threw the ball well." Said Prado.
Along with Pardo, two other Bulls had standout weekends. Redshirt freshman Nik Alfonso batted .556 (5-9) with three RBIs and five runs scored, and senior catcher Chris Norton hit .600 (6-10) over the weekend.
"It's good to see kids who work so hard get out there and get some good results." Prado said with a smile, "both those guys have worked really hard with [pitching coach] Chris Heintz."
After one weekend in the books, Prado knows the team is capable of much more than they showed in Clearwater and Dunedin.
"I don't think we played anywhere close to where we can." Prado said shaking his head, "bottom line is that we got to play better."
Prado and the Bulls' pitching staff have an opportunity to get back on track this weekend when USF travels to Tallahassee to play No. 9 Florida State. The meeting will be the first between the two schools since the 2002 NCAA Regional in Tallahassee, a game the Seminoles won 13-6 to knock USF out of the tournament.