CLEARWATER, Fla. - A grand slam by Alison Savarese was not enough as the University of South Florida softball team lost a 7-3 lead to the Towson Tigers in the bottom of the seventh to fall, 8-7, Sunday in the final game of a rain-shortened USF The Game Tournament.
The Tigers struck in their first at-bat in the bottom of the first. Leadoff batter Erika Stasch walked on a full count and advanced on a bunt single by Kim Lempa. After a catcher's interference call, bases were loaded when Courtney Wittner singled through the left side for the Tigers' first run.
The Bulls (13-13) answered back in the top of the second to even the score, 1-1. First baseman Kendall Arnold singled to right field and advanced to second to a throwing error. Sophomore Alexis Nowell sent a deep fly ball to right center, advancing Arnold to third. With two outs, junior Kelly McCarver singled through the right side to plate Arnold.
Starter redshirt sophomore Capri Catalano lasted only 2.0 innings, surrendering three runs on four hits and walking three. She was given a no-decision.
In the bottom of the third, Towson loaded the bases on two walks and a single. Stef Streets stepped to the dish, driving two Tigers home on a single to centerfield.
The Bulls busted the game open with a five-run fifth inning to take a 7-3 lead. Arnold singled for the second time of the game, to lead off the inning. With runners on the corners, pinch hitter Laura Fountain walked on a full count to load the bases. Janine Richardson was nailed right in the foot to bring home McCarver to tie the game at three apiece.
Once again, Savarese did what she has done the whole year, deliver when the Bulls needed it the most. On a 1-0 count, Savarese sent a lined shot over the left center fence for her second grand slam of the season. The Bulls took a 7-3 lead after four innings of play.
Towson fought back in its last at-bat, though. Streets hit a deep ball off the top of the left field fence to reach third with one out in the bottom of the seventh. After the hit, Eriksen pulled reliever Lindsey Richardson for senior Kristen Gordon. Richardson hurled 4.1 innings, striking out five, scattering four hits and allowing one run.
With Gordon on the mound, the Tigers' Mindy Bean sent the second pitch she saw over the left field fence, cutting the Bulls lead to 7-5. Three singles with two outs by Towson forced Eriksen to bring his third pitcher of the inning, sophomore Brittany Bowles.
Bowles walked Erika Stasch to cut the Bulls lead to one, 7-6. With rain falling, Bowles had a ball slip out of her hands, allowing the Tigers to even the score on the wild pitch. Sammi DiPompo hit a hard shot down the third base line scoring Rachel Miller for the fifth run of the inning, giving the Tigers the 8-7 win.
Gordon (4-3) was credited with the loss in 0.1 innings of work, giving up four runs on four hits.
Katie Lignmai earned the win, tossing 3.1 innings, not allowing a hit and striking out six Bulls.
The Bulls return back to the USF Softball Stadium as they take on No. 17/16 Ohio State on Tuesday at 5 p.m.