By: Tony Allen
USF Athletic Communications
In her third year with USF, junior Laura Fountain seems to have really found her niche as the team’s catcher.
When sophomore Stormi Grzybek went down with a broken elbow in the final weekend of tournament play, head coach Ken Eriksen went to Fountain, knowing she had a little bit of experience behind the plate and in large thanks to her great attitude, she has flourished in her new role.
“She has really lent some stability back behind the plate, defensively and offensively,” said a very pleased Eriksen. “The pitchers seem really comfortable right now with her ability to receive the ball and our team is very confident right now because she’s being a leader behind the plate.”
The positive mentality that Fountain brings to each and every game and practice has only made the transition easier for everyone. She is always listening and working with her coaches and pitching staff to get better, while also being there for her teammates when they’re having a rough day.
“She’s got one of the best attitudes on the team. She’s always happy,” said sophomore pitcher Lindsey Richardson, who is 10-6 with a 2.66 ERA this season. “If you’re down, then she’s that person that you’re going to want to be around, because she’s going to pick you up.”
With Fountain behind the plate, the pitching staff has had a great deal of success this season. All three starters have an ERA under three and a combined 27 wins, while the offense continues to click. It’s been a big year for the Bulls, who are second in the Big East (9-1), and Fountain has been a big part of it.
“It’s been pretty fun,” said Fountain. “I have a really good chemistry with Mo (Triner) and all the pitchers. It’s been a really easy transition, just because they make it easy for me.”
Bulls’ pitching coach Monica Triner and the rest of the team appreciate how cooperative and prepared the 21-year-old is at all times. Fountain is never one to argue with a call. She does what she’s told, and always knows what kind of hitter she and the pitching staff are up against.
“She’s handled the pitching staff extremely well and she’s one of those kids who is always asking questions, wanting to know how to do this, wanting to get better and she picks up on it,” Triner said. “If she feels like she’s not comfortable with the situation, she’ll come over and ask us if she can work extra on it and do a lot of extra things until she’s comfortable with it.”
In addition to playing a major role on defense, the Cooper City, Fla. native is having her best season to date with the bat. She’s hitting .286 with 19 RBI and six extra-base hits, all career-highs. Her confidence has continued to grow as the season’s progressed, though she doesn’t attribute her offensive success to the position change.
“I think it’s just a matter of getting comfortable in hitting as well as fielding, where it takes time to really get into a groove and settle down,” Fountain said. “So, I think it’s just the process of working hard throughout the year and never stopping---always working to get better.”
Fountain has really established herself as a major contributor on both ends this season and has been one of the many bright spots for a young USF softball team that looks to do some serious damage in the BIG EAST in the upcoming years. While many players struggle after making defensive transitions, Fountain has instead excelled under the pressure, thanks in large part to the positive demeanor she brings every day.
“That’s an ultimate team player and an ultimate team attitude,” said Coach Eriksen. “Any time that you can listen to get better, it’s going to make you a better ball player no matter what. She’s that type of kid, and she’s always been that type of kid.”