TAMPA, FEB. 8, 2014 – Monica Santos and Morgan Litchfield provided the offense, but the No. 23 Bulls couldn’t hold off a late-inning rally in a 3-2 loss to No. 4 Michigan on Saturday night.
The Bulls (1-2) took a 2-1 lead into the sixth inning when Caitlin Blanchard hit a two-run single with the bases loaded to help the Wolverines improve to 1-1 at the USF-Wilson DeMarini Tournament before a crowd of 1,175 at USF Softball Stadium.
"We were a little passive and I think that's a reflection on what we did as a coaching staff," head coach Ken Eriksen said. "(We) maybe let them get away with some things and all of a sudden the passive mentality in approaches at the plate, passive mentality on the field, I'm just going to take that completely on us as a coaching staff."
Sara Nevins (0-2) took the loss after striking out 10 in 6 1/3 innings. The left-hander from Pinellas Park, Fla., walked eight and gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits.
Michigan took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning thanks to a fielding error, but the Bulls answered back with authority in the bottom half of the frame. Santos (Tampa) evened things with a towering solo shot over the foul pole in left field on a 2-1 pitch. The sophomore now has five career homers at USF after tying for fourth on the team in 2013.
Stephanie Medina’s leadoff walk led to the Bulls’ go-ahead run in the fourth inning that was produced three batters later when Litchfield hit a two-out single to left-center.
Nevins pitched her way out of danger most of the night but couldn’t get out of trouble with the bases loaded in in the Wolverines’ two-run sixth. Nevins intentionally walked Sierra Romero, Michigan’s No. 3 hitter, to load the bases with two outs and Blanchard followed with a two-run single to center.
The Bulls couldn’t break through late against Megan Betsa (1-0) who struck out six in a complete game. The right-hander gave up two earned runs on four hits and walked three batters.
The Bulls are back at USF Softball Stadium for the USF Tournament that takes place Feb. 14-16. USF faces Wright State on Friday, Feb. 14 at 1:45 p.m. and will finish up the day with a test against Binghamton at 4 p.m. USF’s opponents on Saturday, Feb. 15 will be Pittsburgh (1:45 p.m.) and No. 1 Tennessee (4 p.m.). The Bulls finish up the tournament with a single game against Illinois on Sunday, Feb. 16 at 1:30 p.m.
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