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As the USF Softball team prepares to kickoff the 2017 season Thursday against Illinois State, the coaches and team welcomed USF Softball alumni back to their old stomping grounds. A new tradition was born Saturday afternoon as current players partook in on-field batting practice and exchanged athletic banter with the alumni on hand. The new tradition was a perfect way to meld the old with the new, while allowing the alumni to spend time at a place they once called home for several years.
After a few hours of hitting and fielding to relive the glory days, the players of the past hung their worn gloves and rusty spikes to allow the current team to play the official ‘Green & Gold’ game. It was a splendid afternoon and a great way for the alumni to meet and spend quality time with the newest members of the USF Softball family.
Following a strong 2016 campaign (45-16), the team begins the season ranked at No. 23/24 in the USA Today/NFCA Preseason Coaches Poll. The Bulls enter the season with eight new freshmen, bolstering the Bulls’ strong veteran lineup. The 2017 Bulls are expected to contend for the American Athletic Conference Championship and advance to the NCCA Post-Season Tournament for the second consecutive season. Senior Juli Weber, The AAC 2016 Player of the Year, is one of 50 players nationally to be named to the Softball Collegiate Player of the Year watch list.
As Coach Ken Eriksen enters into his 21st year as head coach, he has made it abundantly clear that the alumni are considered family and an integral part of the team’s success. “We wouldn’t be where we are now, without each of you,” Eriksen said to the 20+ alumni present. Softball has historically set the watermark for success at the University of South Florida, and Eriksen is the winningest coach in USF history. In November, he was inducted into the National Softball Hall of Fame as head coach.
Stay tuned for more USF Softball coverage from this alumni and Bulls insider.
by Misty Akers (“Spence”)
SoFloBulls.com Columnist, USF Softball Alumni | @spencestweets
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