USF softball coach Ken Eriksen is looking for a better approach to the season from his team, he said after the Bulls were swept this weekend.

No. 23 Notre Dame (29-6, 8-0) outscored the Bulls (18-19, 3-3) 16-3 in the three-game series at Melissa Cook Stadium in South Bend, Ind.

“Notre Dame is a very good team, but I felt we had an opportunity to win some games against them,” Eriksen said. “The majority of our team went into this series with the mindset that we weren’t going to win, and players in leadership positions just didn’t step up.”

The Bulls had only five hits combined in Saturday’s doubleheader, losing 4-2 and 10-1.  Notre Dame pitcher Jody Valdivia then hurled a complete-game shutout Sunday, holding the Bulls to just one hit in a 2-0 victory. She is now 22-3 on the season.

“I was very frustrated with our hitting,” Eriksen said. “We also didn’t make enough plays defensively, and our pitchers gave up too many walks. We cannot do those things if we want to win games.”

USF committed three errors in the series and its pitchers walked 10 batters.

USF senior Kristen Gordon pitched the series finale and kept it close, allowing two runs on three hits in six innings but took the loss.

“Lack of execution was the reason for our poor play,” said Gordon, who has a 4-5 record.  “We did our homework on Notre Dame and prepared all week, but we weren’t able to do the things we did well in practice and in last weekend’s series.”

The Bulls began the Big East portion of the season by sweeping Seton Hall in three games last weekend at the USF Softball Stadium. USF will have a chance to get back on track in conference play next weekend at Providence (12-18, 3-5).

Gordon said the Bulls are capable of beating anyone if they play to their potential.

“Notre Dame is a highly ranked team, but we could have swept them if we played the way we had been leading up to the series,” she said. “We can play with every team in the country and just have to get back on track this week in practice to be ready for next weekend.”

-Joel Leventhal

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