The USF softball team will be dancing for the first time in three years, as it was announced Sunday evening at Selection Sunday that they landed in the Gainesville Regional.
For the first time since 2008, Coach Ken Eriksen and the Bulls will be involved in the postseason.
“We are pretty relieved that we are actually in driving distance to get to the regionals,” he said. “Anytime you have to jump on an airplane and make those types of arrangements, it messes with your routine.”
The seniors on the team have never been dancing, but their coach is no stranger to the NCAA Tournament.
“In all honesty, the selection committee did quite a good job,” he said. “We had a very tough schedule this year, and last year we did too but last year we didn’t get done what we needed to.”
To Eriksen, he looks at his team’s season as a whole body of work and is not focused on losing six of the Bulls’ last 11 Big East games.
“We were very fortunate to have a team this year that was able to attack that schedule.”
The Bulls have had some important wins against ranked opponents this season, including victories against Michigan, Virginia Tech, and then-ranked No. 2 Florida.
“This season, we did what we had to do, we had 24 games against ranked teams and went 16-8 against those teams,” Eriksen said. “That is the difference. Our schedule was very very tough but we did very well against it.”
The Bulls are slated to face UCF on Friday at 3:30 p.m and then possibly FGCU and Florida on the other side of the double-elimination bracket.
Eriksen said his team is only focused on the Knights and is not looking ahead to any other teams.
“In the respect of what we do right now, we don’t even talk about the next one,” he said. “We worry about UCF right now and we’ve got to get to the point where we are successful in the postseason; that comes with only focusing on the task at hand.”
USF has not faced UCF this season and hasn’t played them since 2008.
The Knights themselves have had a pretty successful season, one that has included stellar pitching.
According to Eriksen, he is not sure which ace the Knights will start on the mound.
That forces the Bulls to prepare for two different pitching styles.
“I am not really sure who we are going to face, a rise ball pitcher or a down ball pitcher but we’ve got to prepare for both,” he said.
For the Bulls, Eriksen said they might be relying on all three starting pitchers on Friday.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if you saw all three in the game,” he said.