In a game in which the only run scored on an infield pop-out, USF softball's magical season ended Saturday with a 1-0 nail-biter loss to LSU in the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.
USF (50-14) and its ace pitcher, sophomore Sara Nevins, held LSU (40-24) to two hits, but USF could only manage two hits of their own.
LSU scored the only run of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. Nevins hit A.J. Andrews (a freshman who graduated from Countryside H.S. in Oldsmar) with a pitch, and after Simone Heyward was called out on batter's interference, Lindsey Richardson replaced Nevins.
Ashley Langoni hit a fly ball that USF center fielder Janine Richardson almost caught before the ball popped out of her glove. Richardson hit Juliana Santos to load the bases before Allison Falcon hit a pop up that USF shortstop Kourtney Salvarola caught with her back to the plate. Andrews broke for the plate, beating Salvarola's throw home.
The Bulls, who needed a win after losing 5-1 to Oklahoma in their first Women's College World Series game ever Thursday, missed a number of opportunities to get on the scoreboard against LSU, including their best chance in the third inning. Ashli Goff led off with a walk, stole second and got to third on a throwing error. However, her aggression got the best of her, as another throwing error on the play at third led her to try to score. LSU pitcher Brittany Mack managed to retrieve the ball and toss it to catcher Morgan Russell, who blocked the plate and tagged Goff out.
USF Athletics website GoUSFBulls.com reports that Bulls head softball coach had nothing but praise for his team during his post-game press conference.
"My team, wow, being the first team to get into a national championship venue, an event, anytime you're the first is a phenomenal accomplishment," Eriksen said. "For what this team did this year with all the adversities, injuries, all those type of things that went on, it's incredible."
LSU was eliminated later Saturday, falling to Arizona State 6-0. Arizona State lost on Sunday to Oklahoma (53-8), who will play Alabama (58-7) in the best-of-three games Championship Series starting Monday.