USF Senior Writer Tom Zebold is giving GoUSFBulls.com readers a five-part position preview heading into the week of USF's season opener at home against Marshall on Friday, Feb. 8. This week's installment covers an outfield that gives coach Ken Eriksen a ton of options.
By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - USF softball coach Ken Eriksen is known for making frequent trips out to the pitcher's circle to make a change because he has plenty of capable arms that can get the job done.
The same can be said for Eriksen's situation in the outfield that will even feature one of USF's talented pitchers this upcoming season.
"We have such a diverse talent pool that I almost feel like Bill Belichick," Eriksen said. "We're able to use people in every type of position."
Fans will get to see Erica Nunn's skills in the circle and in left field, where the freshman has been getting work for the first time.
"It's not easy for someone who has been in the circle her whole life, but she's such a great athlete," Eriksen said. "She got tried in the fall of having to make certain plays, see if she could move this way and that way, and she did a very good job. We're very, very excited about that situation."
Eriksen said Nunn swings the bat so well that she has to be in the lineup even when she's not pitching after earning Tri-9 Conference Softball Player of the Year honors out of Apex, N.C.
"If she's in the field, then she's going to be in the lineup. If she's pitching, see her hitting. If she's not pitching, still see her hitting because she's going to be in the grass instead of in the circle," Eriksen said.
Eriksen then listed about four different possible outfield lineups because of all the talent USF has at the positions. One player that Bulls fans will see a lot of is sophomore D'Anna Devine, who could be taking over in center field in place of graduated Janine Richardson. Devine started 22 of the 33 games she played in last season between second base and the corner outfield positions.
"She gives us a powerful slapper at the plate and gives us an outfielder with some ability to really go get the ball, and she has a really strong arm," Eriksen said.
Other household names that return are twin sisters Ashli and Courtney Goff, both juniors who played key roles in USF's Women's College World Series run last season. Ashli Goff was the team's primary left fielder last year and did not make an error in the field in 63 games, on top of being a career .285 hitter.
"When it came down to clutch performances, you needed that RBI in the bottom of the seventh and you had a slapper at the plate, Ashli is the type of kid you can count on all the time," Eriksen said.
Courtney Goff established herself as one of USF's top clutch players last season and Eriksen promised USF fans will see a lot more of her in 2013. Opponents won't be looking forward to it because of Goff's ability on the base paths after she stole seven bases in eight tries and scored 19 runs in limited duty last season.
"Courtney might be the fastest kid that we've ever had on the ball field," Eriksen said. "That type of speed with those twins in the lineup at one time can cause havoc for a lot of teams."
Another Bull that has been getting better with time is senior Stephanie Juergens, who also stole seven bases in seven tries last season. The Largo, Fla., native will have a chance to use more of that speed in the outfield after seeing time in 26 games in her USF debut season in 2012.
"She's really getting her slap game down and has great instincts in the outfield, some of the best instincts I've seen in a long time," Eriksen said. "We're not going to be hurting defensively in that area whatsoever."
USF's outfield also will feature sophomore Allie Patierno, described by Eriksen as USF's most improved outfielder, along with the strong arm of freshman Lee Ann Spivey, who also provides the Bulls with a solid option behind the plate.
"We're deep out there. The combinations could change daily, inning by inning or whatever," Eriksen said. "You're hoping to find the philosophy we have in the pitching staff is also going to be on defense. It's a nice problem to have."