LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The University of South Florida was eliminated from the BIG EAST Tournament on Thursday evening as they fell to the host No. 5 Louisville Cardinals 2-0.
The Bulls could not get on the scoreboard in the pitcher’s duel, as both teams combined for just two runs on six hits in the opening-round game.
Freshman Sara Nevins, who was named to the All-BIG EAST First Team on Wednesday, was stellar yet again in the circle for the Bulls. Nevins went the distance for the 12th time this season and allowed just the one run, unearned, on two hits while striking out six Cardinals.
Louisville got a complete game, as well, from their starter Tori Collins who allowed just two hits, a sixth-inning single to senior Kelly McCarver and a seventh-inning single to Stormi Grzybek, and no runs picking up six strikeouts on the night.
Nevins took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, and was lights out until the sixth inning when the Cardinals manufactured a run, and added another on a solo home run in the seventh.
USF put a runner on in each of the first three innings thanks to a pair of walks and a hit by pitch, but they were unable to push a run across, keeping the game knotted at 0-0.
The Bulls got their first hit of the game on an infield single in the fifth, and Erin Bly drew a walk, but the Bulls stranded both runners to keep the game deadlocked at 0-0.
The Cardinals finally broke the scoreless tie in the top of the sixth as they got a leadoff single by Tanner Fowler, who advanced to second on a passed ball, and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Hannah Kiyohara. After 11 pitches, Katie Keller drove a full-count pitch to left, just deep enough to score the run from third, breaking the tie.
The Louisville bats came alive in the seventh as they got a solo home run from Colby Wherry to extend the lead to 2-0, which was followed by a two-out double by Maggie Ruckenbrod, who was stranded on third to end the inning.
USF got a seventh-inning single from Grzybek but stranded the runner, their sixth of the game to end the contest, bouncing them from the BIG EAST Tournament.
With the loss, the Bulls will now wait to see if they earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The tournament selection show is at 10 p.m. on Sunday and will be shown on ESPNU.