In the midst of its final stretch of games this season, the USF Softball team is finally coming together, said Coach Ken Eriksen.

The Bulls (21-21, 6-5) split a double header against Pittsburgh (23-18, 7-6) on Wednesday at the USF Softball Stadium, dropping the first game 1-0 in ten innings before winning game two 5-1.

“Our pitchers gave us an opportunity to win both games today but we only hit in the second game,” Eriksen said.  “The ‘twin towers’ (Lindsey Richardson and Brittany Bowles) continued to get it done for us as they have all season.”

Despite taking the loss in game one, Richardson continued her outstanding freshman campaign, pitching a career high 9 and 1/3 innings and allowing one run on seven hits with nine strikeouts.

Richardson leads the Bulls in wins (10) and innings pitched (99 and 2/3) this season.  Her 1.83 earned run average is also best on the team.

Bowles earned the win in the second game after allowing one run on five hits in five innings.

“Our pitching and defense has been really solid for the past few weeks,” said catcher Cat Olnick.  “But we need to score more runs for our pitchers by having better at bats and concentrating on hitting the ball harder.”

Sophomore Capri Catalano recorded the save for the Bulls – her second of the season – in game two, continuing to impress since coming back from shoulder surgery last season.  She pitched two scoreless innings and struck out two.

“It is great to see (Catalano) out there and looking like she did (in 2008),” Eriksen said.  “We will see how her shoulder responds, but it is going to be tough to keep her in the bullpen if she continues to throw like she did (Wednesday).”

Catalano is 2-2 with a 3.28 earned run average in twelve appearances this season after missing all of 2009 with a shoulder injury.  As a freshman in 2008, Catalano was 17-1 with a 1.40 earned run average in 129 and 2/3 innings pitched.

The Bulls hope to continue their strong pitching of late and look to hit more consistently when they host DePaul (24-14, 8-3) for a three game set this weekend at the USF softball stadium, beginning with a double header on Saturday at noon.  DePaul is currently second in the Big East, three games behind Notre Dame.

“We have been battling through some on the field struggles with our hitting all season,” Olnick said.  “But we feel like we are coming together as a team.  We have a couple days of practice to work some of the kinks out with our bats and we’ll be ready to hit the ball well this weekend.”

-Joel Leventhal