PITTSBURGH - The University of South Florida softball team hasn't faced much adversity in a young Big East season, but the 21st-ranked Bulls showed they were capable of handling some Sunday.
USF (33-5 overall, 6-0 Big East) maintained its composure after watching a 2-0 lead slip away at Pittsburgh, and came back to beat the Panthers with a go-ahead double in the seventh, winning 3-2 to send the Bulls to their second series sweep in conference play.
Tied 2-2 in the seventh, sophomore outfielder Ashli Goff worked a two-out walk and came around to score from first on a Stephanie Medina double down the left field line, diving in ahead of the throw to put the Bulls ahead for good. It was Medina's fourth hit of the day, and the second time Goff had reached base.
"I'm seeing the ball well right now, and we've seen those pitchers already this weekend," Medina said. "I was just looking for a strike and a good pitch to hit, so I could try to drive Ashli in."
While Medina had the big RBI at the plate, head coach Ken Eriksen was sure quick to credit Goff on what turned out to be the game-winning sequence.
"We had one of the fastest people we've ever had on the bases go first to home, and you have to give Ashli credit for doing those little things," Eriksen said. "She created that situation with a tremendous walk in the seventh. She put us in a position to win a few time today."
USF got on the board early, making use of a Kourtney Salvarola leadoff single in the second and scoring the sophomore on a groundout and error. The Bulls added one more in the fourth on a solo home run off the bat of Janine Richardson, and with Sara Nevins dealing in the pitching circle, it looked like two runs would be all USF would need.
Then came the bottom of the fourth.
A one-out error opened the floodgates for five consecutive Panthers to reach base, including a successful suicide squeeze where the batter reached base and advanced to second with no one covering. Pittsburgh scored two and had an opportunity for more, but Nevins pitched out of the jam to preserve the tie game, allowing the Bulls to go ahead with one in the seventh.
"That's the first time in Big East play we had a lead, lost a lead, then came back and won," Eriksen said. "But we responded really well. This team has no fear. There isn't a situation they haven't walked into and thought they wouldn't be successful."
Nevins tossed all seven innings for the Bulls, striking out two as she scattered six hits and allowed just one earned run. She improves to 19-2 this season. Medina went 4-4 at the plate, earning half of the Bulls' eight hits.