Here we go, the latest in the Sports Corner blog as I recap USF women’s basketball’s season ending, men’s basketball getting a new coach, and the baseball and softball teams after a busy weekend. There is a little bit on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Orlando Magic. There is not a lot on the Rays this week, just more spring training games so maybe let’s see if they do anything this week in regards to the roster.
No news is good news. The team was off last week for spring break. They resume practices today.
USF men’s basketball
Ah, the shoe finally fell and the Bulls have hired their new coach in Brian Gregory. Gregory has 13 years heading coach experience at Georgia Tech (2011-16) and at Dayton (2003-11), compiling a record of 248-180 during that time. Gregory spent the last year on the Michigan State sidelines as a consultant for Coach Izzo.
Gregory is a splashy name, but we just had that and it was a disaster. Gregory by all accounts is a solid coach that has taken his clubs to the NCAA tournament and has even won an NIT before. He is a program builder and that is something this program is in desperate need. Now we will have to wait and see what happens to his returning team with several players already leaving (Santos and Thorpe). Coach Gregory has a lot of work to do to even field a respectable team next year. Good luck, coach.
USF women’s basketball
Sigh, the Bulls, 24-9, fell 64 to 66 to Missouri in the first round of the NCAA tournament, ending a tough season that saw the Bulls overcome a ton of injuries in what many could redeem a rebuilding year. They still got to the tournament and nearly sent this game to overtime but the Tigers were able to hit a put-back bucket at the buzzer, taking the game and ending our season. It was a tough way to lose for Coach Fernandez and his battled tested group.
Senior Ariadna Pujol had 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals while Kitija Laksa had 19 points (just 6 for 18 from the field). Maria Jespersen had 9 points and 17 rebounds while Laia Flores had 11 points, 8 assists and 2 steals.
On Wednesday night, USF continued its short winning streak, beating Jacksonville 9 to 6 to move to 17-11 on the year. It was a back and forth game, but the Bulls’ offense was able to get it done late. Lauren Evans was 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs while Sam Worrell went off, going 3 for 3 with a home run, driving in 2 runs total and scoring 2 more (not Kristen Wyckoff or Astin Donovan for this game). Kalen McGill (4-3) got the win in relief, striking out 6 in 3 innings of work as Cheyenne Eggens got save number two.
In the second game on Wednesday night, USF won 4 to 3 over Yale in walk-off fashion, running their record to 18-11. Lauren Evans had the game winning RBI while Lindsey Devitt was 2 for 3 with a double, triple and scored a run. Cassidy Boyle (no Wyckoff or Donovan for this game either) was 2 for 3 and scored a run. McGill got another win in relief (5-3) after going 2 innings, allowing 1 hit, 1 run, and struck out 2.
On Friday first day of the Michele Smith-Clearwater Parks and Rec Spring Tournament), they fell 4 to 0 to Auburn. USF managed just 2 hits in this game against the 4th ranked Tigers (from Sam Worrell and AnaMarie Bruni). Susan Wysocki (2-1) went 3.1 innings in the start, allowing 4 hits, 4 runs, walked 4 and struck out 4.
In the second game, they came right back, beating North Dakota State 7 to 0 to improve their record to 19-12 on the season. Astin Donovan (glad she is back with Kristen Wyckoff still out for no reason given) was 2 for 2 with 2 runs scored. Bethaney Keen was 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs and Morgan Gross was 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs and scored a run. Kalen McGill (6-3) went 6 innings, allowing 4 hits, 1 walk and struck out 5 in another solid outing for the junior college transfer.
On Saturday (both games over in Clearwater), the Bulls lost both games, falling 13 to 4 to Missouri and then 7 to 3 (8 innings) to Illinois in the second game, putting them at 19-14 on the season. Against Missouri, Astin Donovan was 1 for 3 with a 3-run home run and Lindsey Devitt was 2 for 2 with a solo home run as well. Susan Wysocki (2-2-) went 1.1 innings, allowing 4 hits, 5 runs, and walked 2 batters in a rough outing. In the game against Illinois, USF did lead 3 to 1 at one point, but Illinois were able to claw their way back and went it into extras where they unloaded on the Bulls. Kassandra Moeller and Sam Worrell each hit home runs for the Bulls at the plate. Hannah Parker (6-4) took the loss in relief, going 3 innings, allowing 3 hits, 4 runs, walking 2 and struck out 3.
On Sunday, the Bulls won 4 to 3, moving their record to 20-14 on the year, as they salvaged the final game of the weekend. Sam Worrell was 1 for 3 with a 3-run home run. Morgan Gross was 2 for 3 and scored a run. Kalen McGill (7-3) went 4.1 innings, allowing 8 hits, 3 runs, and struck out 4 batters. They get to take on Florida on the road on Wednesday night, so that will be in the next Sports Corner blog next week.
On Friday night, the Bulls won 8 to 2 to move to 16-1, extending their winning streak to 15 straight games as they hammered Harvard (haha, take that, nerds!). Coco Montes was 4 for 5 and scored a run while Kevin Merrell was 2 for 4 with a steal. Chris Chatfield was 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs and scored 2 runs while Luke Borders was 1 for 4 with a home run, driving in 3 runs total. Phoenix Sanders (3-0) went 7 strong innings, striking out 11 batters in the impressive win.
On Saturday, the Bulls won both games of the double header, improving to 18-1 and extended their winning streak to 17 games in a row. In game one, the Bulls won 4 to 1 (7 innings). David Villar was 2 for 2 with a 3-run home run while Shane McClanahan (4-0) went the entire game, allowing 6 hits, 1 run, and struck out 11 batters in another dominating victory. In the second game, the Bulls won 8 to 6 in an offensive battle. Kevin Merrell was 3 for 5 with a home run, drove in 2 runs total and scored 2 more. Coco Montes was 3 for 5 with an RBI and scored a run while Duke Stunkel was 3 for 4 with a double and scored a run. Ryan Valdes improved to 3-0 after working 7 solid innings and Andrew Perez recorded his 2nd save of the year.
On Sunday won 14 to 2, moving their record to 19-1 on the year and the winning streak to 18 games in a row. Coco Montes was 2 for 5 with 2 runs scored, David Villar was 2 for 3 with a grand slam and 5 RBIs total. Tyler Dietrich was 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs and scored a run as well. The Bulls went with a lot of pitchers in this game. Collin Sullivan (1-0) went 2 innings in the start, allowing 1 hit, 4 walks and struck out 1. Noah Yager, Mark Savarese, Michael Farley, Joe Cavallaro and Andrew Perez worked the rest of the game to complete the 4-game sweep of Harvard. This team is on a roll.
They host UNF as they try to keep this streak going.
On Thursday night, Orlando got smoked, 92 to 122 at Golden State to run their record to 24-45 on the year. Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry went off and the Magic had no answer on defense once again. Elfrid Payton led starters with 13 points, 8 rebounds, and just 2 assists (5 turnovers) while Evan Fournier had 12 points. Jeff Green made 13 points and 4 rebounds off the bench, but there really wasn’t anything positive to talk about after this game.
On Friday night, the Magic won 109 to 103 over the Phoenix Suns, moving them to 25-45 and snapping their 4 game losing streak. Evan Fournier had 25 points and 3 rebounds while Elfrid Payton had 10 points and 11 assists. DJ Augustin had 12 points off the bench as they ended the west coast swing on a positive note before returning home.
On Monday night, they won again (two in a row, prepare for the playoffs!), beating Philadelphia in OT, 112 to 109. Orlando trailed for the majority of this game but somehow came back to win it. Nikola Vucevic had 26 points and 13 rebounds while Evan Fournier had 19 points and 4 rebounds.
They host Charlotte on Wednesday night.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Free agency is going on and the Bucs made another move, bringing back 28-year old center Joe Hawley on a 2-year deal. Hawley has been a solid center for the Bucs, dealing with injuries here and here. Many of the local writers are not high on the guy and rightfully so, he was beaten up at times, but he can start games and adds depth and experience for Jameis Winston. Expect the Bucs to add someone else to the center battle and let the position work itself out this summer/fall.
On Saturday, the Bucs signed kicker Nick Folk to compete with the 2nd round pick from last year Roberto Aguayo. Let’s be real, Roberto sucked last year and taking a kicker so high in the draft was not the best idea. Folk is a veteran and a good one, so the heat is on Roberto to prove his worth. I think the front office understands this and either wants Roberto to prove himself or they will simply move to someone with a proven track record and eat their mistake.
Tampa Bay Rays
Not much is going on for the Rays. Kevin Kiermaier’s extension was made official on Monday. It also appears that Brad Boxberger, Matt Duffy, and possibly Colby Rasmus won’t be ready for opening day, so there may be some rosters moves approaching with just two weeks to go until opening day.