TAMPA - For the University of South Florida softball team Friday night, the long ball was a good friend.
In a game that saw just five total hits between teams, the Bulls lifted a pair of solo shots out of USF Stadium, defeating Virginia Tech 2-0 on the opening day of the USF Under Armour Showcase Tournament.
USF (17-4) broke a scoreless tie in the fourth as junior designated player Kenshyra Jackson connected on a line-drive home run that just cleared the left-center field wall for a solo shot. Two batters later, senior outfielder Janine Richardson matched Jackson's homer, sending a long fly ball out to left to put the Bulls up 2-0.
"The team resolved that they were going to be a little more aggressive at the plate," head coach Ken Eriksen said. "I'm excited about that right now. Last week we were very tentative at the plate and let pitches go by."
All three pitchers for USF tossed, combining to throw a one-hit shutout. Freshman Sam Griener pitched two and one-third innings with two strikeouts and no walks, picking up the win in relief, and sophomore Sara Nevins closed out the game, earning her third save of the year with three strikeouts.
"Sammie, as a freshman, deserves a lot of credit and was the key to that win," Eriksen said. We kept them at zero and we were able to jump out. We have a staff [of pitchers], we don't need to be concerned with statistics or complete games."
Virginia Tech (13-9) would reach base three times, stranding runners in the second, fourth and seventh innings. Sophomore first baseman Stephanie Medina prevented Virginia Tech's biggest chance at a rally in the fourth, snaring a sharp liner down the line, and doubling the runner off at first base.
USF returns to action Saturday in Clearwater at the Eddie C. Moore Complex, taking on Central Connecticut at 4:15 p.m.