The Sports Corner: USF WBB dancing and baseball rolling

Image result for kevin merrell usf

USF baseball has won 14 in a row. That’s pretty damn impressive.

Ok, so that first blog was a rant on USF men’s basketball. This one is going to be what the blog series will be about. It will have some basic stats, but an overall thought on the teams and events that each went through during the week. Here are some thoughts on USF baseball, softball, women’s basketball and again men’s basketball along with the Orlando Magic, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and of course my beloved Tampa bay Rays added in there. How about that?

Side note, I think I’ll be moving the Sports Corner to Tuesdays to better cover the weekend events for all of the sports teams.

USF football
There is not a lot to report right now. Spring practices were going on but are on hold now as spring break is taking place this week for the Bulls. They spring practices will resume next week with the spring game being held on April 15th on campus as Corbett Stadium.
 
USF men’s basketball
The season is over and now the team is waiting to see what happens with its next coach. Per Joey Knight by Geno Thorpe and Luis Santos will not return and Troy Holston is waiting to see who takes over. I am sure more players will be moving on and more coming in. Get ready for a busy off season for this team.
 
USF women’s basketball
On Monday night, the Bulls, 24-8, earned the 11 seed in the Stockton region of the NCAA tournament. They will face Missouri on Friday in Tallahassee in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Bulls, in a rebuilding year, are dancing again. It will be a tough opening game for the Bulls and many are upset at the low seeding. For me? Just play the game, win, and advance to the next day. The game is scheduled at 5 PM on Friday so if you can make the 4 hour drive to Tallahassee, do it!
 
USF softball
The Bulls had a rough weekend starting on Saturday, falling 5 to 1 to Butler on Saturday afternoon. Bethaney Keen was 1 for 3 with the lone RBI as Cheyenne Eggens (5-5) went 3 innings in the loss, allowing 4 runs on 4 hits. In the second game of the afternoon (in the UA showcase), they fell 4 to 2 to Central Michigan. Keen was 1 for 4 while Kelsey Lay was 2 for 3. Hannah Parker went 1 for 3 with 2 RBIs and but took the loss (5-3) after going all 7 innings, allowing 7 hits, 4 runs, walking 2 and struck out 9 batters.
On Sunday, the Bulls got back in the win column in the first game, beating Army 11 to 1 (5 innings) to improve to 15-11 on the year. Lauren Evans was 3 for 3 with 2 RBIs and scored 2 runs while Brook Hartman was 2 for 2 while driving in 3 runs. Hannah Parker (6-3) went 4 innings, striking out 3 batters and did not walk anyone in a solid bounce back win for her.
In the second game of the DH, they won 9 to 2 over CCSU to improve to 16-11. Astin Donovan went 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs (no Kristen Wyckoff this weekend which is a little concerning moving forward). Bethaney Keen was 2 for 4 with 3 RBIs. Susan Wysocki (2-0) went 4.2 innings in relief of Cheyenne Eggens, striking out 5 batters in a solid second game of the day.
USF will host Jacksonville (5:30 PM) followed by Central Connecticut State on Wednesday afternoon (game begins at 7:45 PM) in a key mid-week two game match.
 
USF baseball
So let’s start this new blog up on Friday, with USF baseball winning 8 to 1 over Valparaiso to extend their winning streak to 13 games as they moved to 14-1. Shane McClanahan improved to 3-0 on the year with 5.1 strong innings, striking out 5 batters. Luke Borders drove in 2 runs while Duke Stunkel went 2 for 4 with another RBI. It was just another big game for the Bulls
On Sunday, the Bulls won 6 to 5 over Valparaiso to extend their winning streak to 14 games and running their record to 15-1 on the year. The big blast game in the 9th on a walk-off home run from Joe Genord to send the Bulls to the victory column. Kevin Merrell was 2 for 4 with an RBI and stole 2 bases while Coco Montes was 3 for 5 with an RBI and scored 2 runs. Both Luke Borders and Genord had home runs in the game. This team is so much fun to watch because they do not give up and keep finding different ways to win. Andrew Perez got the win after working the last 1.1 innings, striking out one.
The Bulls will start a 4-game series on Friday night (game begins at 6:30 PM) against Harvard.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are in the middle of spring training and covering any spring games i meaningless at this stage unless something happens to a key player. Chris Archer is pitching for team USA in the World Baseball Classic along with Alex Colome for the Dominican.
Wilson Ramos is rehabbing, Matt Duffy is coming along, Brad Boxberger swears he will be ready by opening day, and Colby Rasmus is still on the mend. Aside from that, not a lot to report at this point but don’t worry, when the games get real, I will go off on them.
 
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Free agency is open and the Bucs are making moves. Let’s start with the big one, wide receiver DeSean Jackson has signed on a 3-year deal at $33.5 million with $20 million being guaranteed. Jackson played in 15 games in 2016 with Washington catching 56 passes for 1005 yards (17.9 yards per catch) and had 4 receiving touchdowns. Jackson is a big time vertical threat that brings a speed dimension the Bucs have lacked for years. He teams up with big Mike Evans to give the Bucs and Jameis Winston two big targets in the passing game. At wide receiver, the Bucs did lose Russell Shepard to the Carolina Panthers. Shepard has been a key reserve wide receiver for the Bucs for years but more importantly a special teams captain for that unit, so that is a big of a loss right there. To replace him the Bucs did resign defensive back Josh Robinson to a 2-year deal (3.5 million guaranteed). Robinson is a key special teams guy even after recording just 11 tackles last year. He is a key re-signing even if the name doesn’t jump off the screen for the casual fans.
Also on offense, the Bucs resigned veteran running back Jacquiezz Rodgers to a 2-year deal worth around $3.3 million. In 10 games last last year, Rodgers rushed the ball 129 times for 560 yards (led the team) with 2 touchdowns and caught 13 passes for 98 yards, filling in for Doug Martin and his off the field issues. The Bucs needed to add to the backfield and bringing back Rodgers is extra insurance and gives the team more options when it comes to the draft and if and when they take a back.
On defense, they resigned Chris Conte to a 2-year deal. Conte ins 14 games last year had 69 tackles with 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, and 5 passes defended. Conte is a solid veteran, can start, and is simply a good depth player to have on the roster to help the secondary. The team also signed defense tackle Chris Baker to a 3-year deal worth around $15.8 million with $9 million being guaranteed. Barker, who was also with Washington last year, had 47 tackles with 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles last year in 16 games. Baker is a solid rotational tackles that will be a key reserve up front with Gerald McCoy and company. In a late addition, the Bucs also added safety JJ Wilcox on a 2-year deal that could reach up to $8.5 million. In 13 games last year for the Cowboys, he had 49 tackles with 1 forced fumble, 1 interception, and defended 6 passes. With just one safety resigned (Conte), the Bucs had to add another body for the secondary and Wilcox appears to be a solid get.
 Orlando Magic
On Saturday night (3/11), the Magic fell 116 to 104 to the Cleveland Cavaliers, putting their record at 24-43 on the year (1-4 in their last 5 games). In the 2nd, the Cavs took over and never allowed Orlando to get back in the game. Lebron James had 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 13 assists as the King always does. Nikola Vucevic had 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead Orlando while Aaron Gordon had 16 points and 5 rebounds.
On Monday night, Orlando headed out to Sacramento begin a west coast road trip and lost 115 to 120 to drop their overall record to 24-44 (1-5 in their last 6 now). Vucevic had 23 points and 9 rebounds, including 3 for 3 from 3-point range. Elfrid Payton had a triple double with 13 points, 13 assists, and 10 rebounds, however, they just could not stop anyone once again. They continue the west coast swing with a lovely game against Golden State on Thursday night.
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