CLEARWATER, Fla. – Multi-hit performances by Cat Olnick and Janine Richardson and a key pinch hit by Laura Fountain led the University of South Florida softball team over the James Madison Bulldogs , 7-4, in the nightcap of Saturday night's ballgame in the Under Armour Showcase.
After shutting down the Bulldogs in order to start the game, the Bulls looked to put the first run across first. Sophomore Gina Kafalas walked to first on an illegal pitch call and senior Tara Toscano singled the very next pitch. After Alison Savarese moved Kafalas and Toscano over on a sacrifice bunt, the Bulls had a prime opportunity to score with the meat of their lineup coming up.
James Madison’s pitcher caught JoJo Medina looking on an inside pitch for strike three and Olnick lined a shot to the diving Bulldog third baseman to end the Bulls’ threat.
Two errors by James Madison’s defense allowed Richardson to score from first in the second inning. After leading off with a single, the Bulls centerfielder stole second but advanced to third on the catcher's attempt to throw her out. On her way to third, another error easily moved her home.
Medina started the third by walking for the 113th time in her career. Richardson doubled down the right field line to put both her and Medina in scoring position with one out. The Bulls increased their lead when Medina scored on a sac fly by first baseman Kendall Arnold, who hit a ball deep to right center.
Arnold led off the sixth with a triple to right center to start the Bulls' five-run sixth inning rally. Alexis Nowell reached on an error and advanced to second on a Kelly McCarver walk. Sophomore pinch hitter Fountain came through, singling up the middle to plate Arnold and Nowell. Savarese doubled to left center scoring Kafalas and McCarver with one out.
James Madison brought back in starter Heather Dindinger with two outs in the sixth, but Cat Olnick kept the rally going, doubling to right center to bring across the Bulls' fifth run in the inning to take a 7-2 lead.
The Bulldogs fought in the top half of the seventh to cut the Bulls lead 7-4, but USF held on to the lead and got the victory.
Senior Kristen Gordon, the third pitcher the Bulls used, earned the win, hurling 1.2 innings and giving up three hits and two walks while striking out three. Redshirt sophomore Capri Catalano started the game but earned the no-decision, throwing 5.0 innings and only allowing three hits while striking out eight.
Olivia McPherson suffered the loss, only tossing 1.0 innings while surrendering five runs, allowing three hits and not striking out a Bull batter.
Head Coach Ken Eriksen inched closer to his 600th win as USF’s skipper with an overall record of 598-311-1.
The Bulls will close out the Under Armour Showcase, facing Toledo at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Eddie C. Moore Complex.