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USF Bulls

USF softball two wins away from College World Series

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 03:22 PM
TAMPA -

It's all there for the No. 19-ranked University of South Florida softball team.

USF (48-11) has the NCAA Super Regionals at its on-campus stadium for the first time and can make the program's first trip to the Women's College World Series by winning the best-of-3 series against the unranked Hofstra Pride (41-13).

The Bulls have advantages. But it won't be easy.

Friday night, Hofstra is expected to start junior right-hander Olivia Galati (33-5), who leads the nation in ERA (0.91) and shutouts (17). Galati has won 31 straight starts – two off an NCAA record established in 1982 – and hasn't lost since March 4. She has 363 strikeouts and just 24 walks.

"That gets your attention,'' USF coach Ken Eriksen said.

So does this: Galati said her historic streak doesn't compare to team success.

"I guess it's pretty cool, but it's just a number,'' Galati said. "We just care about winning. If the other team scores eight and we score nine, we still win. That's good enough for me. I don't think about that (31-game winning streak) because it distracts. I don't want it to be a problem or issue during a game.''

Hofstra coach Bill Edwards, a long-time friend of Eriksen, said Galati has the perfect approach for the Pride's old-school program.

"Obviously, Olivia is the engine and she's the one who's moving this whole train,'' Edwards said. "But she knows she has a team behind her that last year led the nation in defense. She's not afraid to throw a pitch she knows is going to be hit – as long as it's in the park – because she knows her team gives maximum defensive effort. At the same time, she thrives on making the big pitch to the big hitter at the big moment.''

Oklahoma City might be on the horizon, but the Bulls can't see that far, not yet at least. Not with Galati standing in their path. The opportunity is great. So, too, is the competition.

Big East baseball honors

USF LHP Andrew Barbosa (7-5, 2.37 ERA, league-leading 103 strikeouts) was named first-team All-Big East, while OF James Ramsay (team-leading .332 batting average) and RHP Derrick Stultz (8-1, 3.76) made the conference's second team.

Additionally, USF's Jimmy Falla finished second to Notre Dame's Trey Mancini in the Big East home-run derby.

Bulls Bits

During this week's Big East Conference meetings at Ponte Vedra Beach, the league decided its football championship game, beginning in 2013, will follow the Pac-12 model and be held at a campus site instead of a neutral-site venue (such as New York). Initial discussion was held on how the Big East could break into divisions – including a non-geographic format that would split the Florida schools (USF and UCF), the Texas schools (Houston and SMU) and the West Coast schools (Boise State and San Diego State) – but nothing was decided. … Adjacent to the newly renovated USF Sun Dome, on the wall of the Pam and Les Muma Basketball Center, there are now large photographic murals of men's player Toarlyn Fitzpatrick and women's player Inga Orekhova. … Men's golf freshman Trey Valentine, playing as an individual, finished 2-over-par and tied for 15th in a 75-player field at the NCAA Regionals in Athens, Ga.


jjohnston@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7353 Twitter: JJohnstonTrib

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