Rob Bridenstine

USF Embarrassed in AAC Tournament

The USF Bulls were bounced from the American Athletic Conference tournament after a 12-0 defeat to rival UCF. The Knights held the Bulls bats at bay all day and UCF was able to score at will once they reached into the USF bullpen.

USF only managed to get two hits all day, the first of which didn’t come until the seventh inning off the bat of Coco Montes. At one point UCF pitcher Chris Williams retired 19 straight Bulls without allowing a base runner.

USF starting pitcher Peter Strzelecki was able to fend off the Knights for the majority of his outing, keeping it a scoreless tie through five innings. In the sixth, two men reached base on a walk and a hit by pitch. Shortstop Kevin Merrell then made a critical error to keep the inning alive and the Knights never looked back, scoring seven in the frame.

Head coach Mark Kingston said his team just didn’t seem like themselves ever since last night’s walk off loss to ECU.

“You always want to go into it thinking you’ll be ready to play,” Kingston said. “I don’t know if it was mentally a hangover, but we looked a bit tired, there’s no doubt about it… our bats looked a tick slower than normal today”

Kingston said that he is giving the team the next couple days off to mentally and physically rest before next week’s NCAA Regional, in a location that is still to be determined.

“We’re in reset mode now, the regular season is now officially over,” Kingston said. “The kids are going to have two days out to totally get away from it and at 10 o’clock Monday morning I want to see positive energetic guys.”

During those two days before the next time the Bulls will meet, Kingston and the coaching staff will be focusing on self evaluation before their regional opponents are announced. Don’t be shocked to see some players in some different spots in the lineup, or completely absent from the lineup.

“We’ll look at our last five games stats, our last 10 games stats and figure out where the trends are,” Kingston said. “Some guys are just not swinging it well right now and we need to figure out why or we need to make a change in the lineup.”

After one of the best seasons in program in history, USF was selected in the NCAA Tournament and will be facing Bethune-Cookman University in the first game of the Gainesville regional. However, with their recent sloppy performances, they may not stick around for a long time.

 “We’ll make the adjustment and we’ll be ready to go starting Monday,” Kingston said. “That’s when the real season starts.” 

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