USF Softball Wins NCAA Regional, Will Host Super Regional

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The USF softball team shutout No. 5 seed Florida 1-0 in the final game of the Gainesville Regional to secure their place as one of eight teams playing in the NCAA Super Regionals.  The Bulls will host Hofstra for a three-game series May , with the winner advancing to the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla.  No. 15 seed Louisville, Notre Dame and Syracuse also were in action Sunday, but lost in Regional Final games. 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The road to Oklahoma City just became one step shorter for the University of South Florida softball team.

The Bulls (48-11 overall) finished off the first leg of this road to the College World Series, getting ahead early and holding on to out-duel Florida 1-0 in the Gainesville Regional Championship Sunday. USF defeated all three teams in the region, going 3-0 in the tournament to advance to the Super Regionals for just the second time in school history.

Sophomore pitcher Sara Nevins tossed her seventh complete game shutout of the year, giving the Bulls' offense a chance to manufacture a run without the stress of a deficit looming. Nevins struck out 12, allowing just five hits to pick up her 29th win of the season and third win of the NCAA Tournament.

USF pushed its sole run across in the fourth. Stephanie Medina, who had been putting good swings on the ball with little luck all weekend, led off for the Bulls and drove a long double to the wall in center field. Stephanie Juergens came on to run for Medina, and moved to third on Janine Richardson's sacrifice bunt.

With two outs, Kenshyra Jackson continued her hot streak, chopping an infield single to the left side to bring home Juergens and break the scoreless tie.

That was all USF would need, as Nevins was masterful through the first five innings, allowing just three hits and striking out eight before running into her first real threat in the sixth. Facing the heart of the Gators' order, Nevins surrendered back-to-back hits and a walk to load the bases with no outs.

With Florida threatening to tie things up or even take the lead, Nevins did exactly what she's done all season long, digging in to strike out the next two hitters and force the third to ground out to Kourtney Salvarola at shortstop, ending the inning and preserving the lead.

USF's only other Super Regional appearance in its 27-year history came in 2006 after winning the Gainesville Regional that season. The Bulls ended up losing to UCLA in L.A., but that will not repeat itself as USF will host one of eight 2012 NCAA Super Regionals, facing Hofstra.

Courtesy of USF Athletics.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - No. 7/9 Louisville's best season in program history came to an end with a 4-0 loss to No. 21 Michigan in the finals of the Louisville Regional. The Cards finish the season with a 55-5 overall record, the best in program history. The Cards produced a 20-2 mark in BIG EAST Conference play en route to winning the league title. They also went on to win the BIG EAST tournament, becoming the first team to win both the regular season and the tournament since Notre Dame in 2003. Louisville earned a No. 15 seed in the NCAA tournament and hosted for the second straight season. At the conclusion of their season the Cardinals were ranked No. 7 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Coache's poll and No. 9 in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association rankings. After reaching the top 10 for the first time in program history, they spent the final five weeks there. 

A complete recap can be found here.

TUCSON, Ariz. - A fierce mid-game rally was not enough for Notre Dame as its season came to a close after an 8-3 loss to 13th-seeded Arizona in the Tucson Regional.  The Irish wrapped up the season with an overall record of 40-16.  ND finished second in the BIG EAST Conference regular season standings and advanced to the final game of the league tournament before falling to Louisville in extra innings. The squad posted a 17-game winning streak as part of a late-season run before dropping three of its last five affairs.  The Irish clinched their fourth-straight 40-win season - and 14th in program history - with a convincing 8-4 win Saturday evening against North Dakota State.

A complete recap can be found here.

TEMPE, Ariz. - Syracuse (43-16) was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by No. 2 Arizona State in the Championship game of the Tempe Regional by the score of 4-0.  The Orange finish the year with a 43-16 record, their second-highest win total in program history.  By earning a spot in the Regional final game, SU advanced deeper into the NCAA Tournament than ever before. Its win against the Sun Devils Sunday morning was the highest nationally-ranked opponent the Orange have ever defeated.

A complete recap can be found here.