GAINESVILLE — In the biggest game of the season to date, the University of South Florida softball team played its worst game of the year.
The Bulls, playing a winner’s bracket game in the Gainesville Regional, ran into a buzzsaw in No. 2 Florida, getting blown out 11-1 in a five-inning run-rule loss.
USF (44-15) led 1-0 early after a wild first inning in which the Bulls scored a run and left the bases loaded without the benefit of a hit.
Once the Gators (54-7) came to bat though, everything changed as Florida’s offense kicked into gear. The Gators scored three runs in the first inning and five in the second to take a commanding 8-1 lead and force USF starter Sara Nevins out of the game after only 1.1 innings.
Florida’s Lauren Haeger tied a school record for RBIs with seven in a 2-for-2 outing, including a three-run homerun.
“There’s a reason they’re No. 2 in the country,” USF coach Ken Eriksen said. “They can be flawless. … Sometimes reminders like this are needed. (We’ve got to) come back tonight, play well tonight and get a ‘W’ and then play a great day tomorrow.”
Now, USF will meet either Georgia Southern or Hampton in an elimination game Saturday evening. The Bulls beat GSU 1-0 in eight innings Friday.
Should the Bulls win the evening game, they’ll need to beat Florida twice Sunday to advance to the Super Regionals.