TAMPA, Fla. - BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year Sara Nevins led No. 2 seed USF (43-14) to a 1-0 win in 10 innings against No. 1 seed Notre Dame (43-13) to claim the 2013 BIG EAST Softball Championship for the first time in program history Saturday at the USF Softball Stadium. Saturday's pitching duel resulted in the second-longest title game in tournament history. Nevins and BIG EAST Player of the Year Laura Winter of the Irish allowed just nine hits total in 20 combined innings. Nevins earned the Most Outstanding Performer of the BIG EAST Championship award for one of the greatest pitching performances in the history of the tournament.
Saturday's BIG EAST title game marked the fifth extra-inning game in the 23-year history of the tournament and second time in as many years. Notre Dame appeared in all five games and is 1-4.
Nevins continued her dominating championship performance Saturday with four hits, one walk, and 12 strikeouts in 9.2 innings. She had a no-hitter going through 6.1 innings and struck out Player of the Year Winter four times. In three BIG EAST tournament games, the First Team All-BIG EAST unanimous selection threw 22.2 scoreless innings, struck out 25 batters and allowed 10 hits.
USF junior left fielder Courtney Goff recorded the first hit of the game in the top of the third inning. She stole second to get in scoring position but a groundball to third base shortly after put an end to the Bulls scoring threat.
Nevins' no-hit bid was broken up in the bottom of the sixth when All-BIG EAST Third Team shortstop Chloe Saganowich hit a one out single up the middle. The next batter, right fielder Kelsey Thornton, hit an infield single to put runners on first and second but the BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year forced back-to-back groundouts to end the inning.
The game remained scoreless until catcher Lee Ann Spivey reached second on a throwing error to lead off the top of the 10th inning. The next batter, second baseman Monica Santos, hit a single to left field and advanced to second on the throw to home. With the go-ahead runner on third base, right fielder Ashli Goff hit a single to drive in the winning run. Santos was thrown out at home and Winter got out of the inning by striking out the next batter.
With one out in the bottom of the 10th inning and trailing by one, third team selection Cassidy Whidden hit a line-drive to right field but was thrown out by Goff. Third team selection Lindsey Richardson replaced Nevins to strike out the final batter of the game and earn her second save of the tournament.
At the conclusion of the BIG EAST Championship game, the softball committee announced the 2013 All-Tournament Team. Six players from the Bulls made the 12-team list while Notre Dame earned three selections, Louisville placed two and DePaul had one.
BIG EAST teams await their NCAA Championship fates when the softball selection show airs Sunday, May 12 at 10 p.m. ET on ESPNU. Regionals of the 64-team tournament will be held May 16-19 on 16 campus sites. The winners advance to the Super Regionals May 23-26, also on campus sites, and the 2013 Women's College World Series will be held at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla., May 30 to June 5.
BIG EAST Championship Awards
Most Outstanding Player
Sara Nevins, USF, P
Ashli Goff, USF, RF
Kourtney Salvarolla, USF, SS
Katey Haus, Notre Dame, 3B
Chloe Saganowich, Notre Dame, SS
Kirsten Verdun, DePaul, P
Maggie Ruckenbrod, Louisville, C
Sara Nevins, USF, P
Laura Winter, Notre Dame, P
Jordan Trimble, Louisville, OF
Kenshyra Jackson, USF, 3B
D'Anna Devine, USF, CF
Lee Ann Spivey, USF, C