SOUTH BEND, Ind. - For the second straight game, the Bulls were first to get on the board but failed to hold their lead as the University of South Florida softball team (18-18 Overall, 3-2 BIG EAST) fell to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (27-6, 7-0) in five innings, 10-1.
Sophomore Gina Kafalas started the Bulls rally by getting on with a four-pitch one out walk to start the first inning. A throwing error by the Notre Dame shortstop on a Tara Toscano grounder advanced Kafalas to third. Toscano later stole second and another throwing error on the attempted steal easily scored Kafalas from third for the Bulls first run.
After a one-out walk for Notre Dame, the Bulls got their eighth double play of the year to end the first. Heather Johnson lined a shot to Alison Savarese at third on a hit-and-run and Savarese easily threw out the runner at first to end the inning and keep the Bulls lead, 1-0.
Notre Dame evened the score in the bottom of the second when Alexia Clay hit an RBI double to right center. Still threatening with runners on first and second with one out, Savarese scooped up the ball, touched third and threw to Kendall Arnold at first for the second double play of the game and get out of the inning with the score even at 1-1.
In the bottom of the third, the Irish took the one-run lead on a sacrifice fly. A deep fly ball to left field with runners on second and third and one out scored the Irish’s second run. Sadie Pitzenberger, who was the runner on second, was called out on the play for leaving early, ending the third inning but giving the Irish the 2-1 lead.
Senior JoJo Medina trotted to first on a four-pitch walk, where junior transfer Jasmine Parra came in to run to start the fourth. Savarese attempted to lay down a sac bunt but a throwing error advanced Parra to third and Savarese to second with one out. A grounder to the right side on a Cat Olnick hit was grabbed by Irish second baseman, Dani Miller, who threw Parra out at home, keeping the Irish lead.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Irish pounded eight runs across the board to take a 10-1 lead. Heather Johnson hit a grand slam in the inning.
Still trying to find the team's first hit, sophomore Gina Kafalas singled a ball to center in the top of the fifth, but the Bulls were unable to push across anymore runs, falling to Notre Dame in five innings.
"I think the team has to have a little pride," said head coach Ken Eriksen. "I think they need to find it within themselves to come out tomorrow and fight back."
USF continues the series with the Irish with the final game tomorrow at noon.