The University of South Florida baseball team (20-10) needs just five wins to match last season's victory total. Coach Lelo Prado's Bulls are 5-1 and in a three-way tie with Louisville and Connecticut for leadership in the Big East Conference.
But really, they're just getting started.
Prado wants to see a strong response during the Bulls' eight-game road swing, which opens tonight at Cincinnati. The next week or so will help to define USF's season, which has been haunted by a 3-7 mark against state opponents (UCF, Stetson, Florida A&M, Bethune-Cookman and North Florida).
The most promising development has been domination from 6-foot-8 senior pitcher Andrew Barbosa, who missed most of last season because of Tommy John surgery. Barbosa had 13 strikeouts against Georgetown, then followed with a 14-strikeout, one-walk performance against Notre Dame.
Men's basketball recruiting
The Bulls are in the hunt for 6-foot-4 guard Sam Cassell Jr., of Baltimore, son of the former Florida State and NBA player. Cassell had orally committed to Maryland, but this week said he will visit USF and FSU. He's also considering Villanova. Cassell's father, now an assistant coach with the NBA's Washington Wizards, once was a USF nemesis, scoring 34 and 22 points in two meetings against the Bulls.
The spring signing period begins Wednesday. USF is expected to announce the signing of 6-7 forward Zach LeDay of The Colony, Texas, who committed in early January.
Coach Stan Heath's Bulls, who signed three players in the fall for the 2012-13 season, were 22-14 and finished one victory away from the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16.
"The future seems extremely bright," Heath said. "You can quote me on this. I think next year's team will have more talent and be a better team than we had this year."
USF's Victor Rudd Jr. (dunking against California) and the Sun Dolls dancers (in country outfits) were featured in the "One Shining Moment'' video following Kentucky's victory against Kansas in Monday night's NCAA championship game. … Football coach Skip Holtz said he will develop the spring's initial depth chart after Friday morning's scrimmage. The Bulls will host the on-campus Green and Gold Bowl scrimmage at Corbett Stadium on Saturday, April 14 at 6 p.m. The spring game is at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, April 21 at 6 p.m.
Some 10 months before national signing day 2013, Winter Park QB Asiantii Woulard decommitted from USF, saying his earlier pledge was "premature." He said the Bulls are still in it. There are offers from Syracuse, Duke and Florida International. He said he's hoping for many more. … For the fourth consecutive week — and the fifth time in the past six weeks — sophomore softball player Sara Nevins won the Big East Conference's pitcher of the week award. She had a no-hitter (her third of the season) and a career-high 16 strikeouts at Pittsburgh. USF (33-5) is ranked No. 18 nationally and carries a 13-game winning streak into a weekend home series against St. John's (Friday doubleheader at 2 and 4 p.m., Saturday afternoon game at 1).