TAMPA, Fla. -- Pitching and defense have been a staple for South Florida softball team, and Wednesday night was no exception.

The Bulls (11-2) continued to hold runs at a premium against No. 16 Michigan (11-4), using solid pitching and a run-saving toss to blank the Wolverines 2-0.

Sophomore pitcher Sara Nevins went the distance for USF, settling in after working out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning to allow just six hits and pick up her fourth win. Nevins struck out eight, including maybe the biggest one in the first, blowing a 3-2 fastball past a tardy swing to end what looked to be an early Michigan rally.

"If you look at the history of baseball and softball you learn first innings are crucial," said Bulls head coach Ken Eriksen. "You can really take the wind out of teams sails."

The Wolverines would reach second base just once more in the game, as Eriksen said Nevins' maturity really shone through.

"Last year, Nevins tried to throw the ball by people," Eriksen said. "Today she moved the ball around in the zones and change speeds a few times."

USF broke the scoreless tie in the third beginning with a lead-off infield single by sophomore outfielder Ashli Goff. After a sacrifice bunt from senior outfielder Gina Kafalas advanced Goff to second, sophomore shortstop Kourtney Salvarola slammed a line drive back up the middle for the first run of the game.

"I was very happy with our sacrifice bunts tonight," Eriksen said. "We got the ball down, and were able to advance our runners."

Junior designated player Kenshyra Jackson kept it going for USF in the next inning, leading off with a triple off the base of the centerfield wall. Two batters later, senior catcher Laura Fountain drove an 0-1 fastball back up the middle, stretching the lead to two.

Michigan's last scoring opportunity came in the fifth. With a runner on second and two out, the Wolverines singled to right, and sent the runner streaking toward home. KafalasĀ  was quick getting to the ball however, and fired to Fountain on a line at the plate, nipping the runner and preserving the shutout.

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