The 2024 USF Softball season is on the verge of starting. It will be announced by head coach Ken Eriksen that the Bulls will have 56 total games, 38 of those games will take place at USF Softball Stadium, and 18 are road games. Eriksen said, “We once again put together a great schedule for our fans to challenge our program.” The USF fans have been fabulous every year and they continue to have the best turnstile numbers in the country. The Bulls will host four non-conference tournaments welcoming six teams that made it to the 2023 regionals. Two of those teams were the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Washington Huskies. The season opens on February 8th against Illinois State at 4 p.m. followed by Bethune-Cookman at 6:30 p.m. The Bulls will also host Michigan, Oregon State, and the Florida Gators.
One of the challenges that face the USF Bulls is that the AAC has changed. Five new teams are now part of the conference. Newcomers Charlotte and North Texas are ranked 2 and 3 in the conference. The Bulls begin conference play against the Charlotte 49ers who they have not played since 2005. The 49ers made it to NCAA Regionals last season and are one of the toughest opponents. North Texas can also be a challenge. The other three that will also pose a threat are UAB, FAU, and UTSA. USF will face them all before the AAC tournament on May 8-11. The Bulls are ranked 4th in the conference but they will face four nationally ranked in the top 25 in the country. One of the series to look out for is against Wichita State. The Shockers beat the Bulls to win the regular season championship.
The only three teams that are ahead of the USF Bulls are the Shockers, 49ers, and Mean Green. There are six players to watch for in the 2024 season. Let’s start with redshirt senior outfielder Jordyn Kadlub. She played in 48 games and had a team-high 164 putouts. Kadlub batted .248 in route to being named to the AAC All-Tournament team. She has been a staple for the Bulls and her experience will play a role in how the season will go. Senior utility Marissa Trivelpiece was one of the best hitters in the lineup in 2023. She had 40 hits 33 RBI’s and hit eight home runs. Trivelpiece was only one double and one home run away from breaking into the Top-10 single-season record for both in 2023.
The next player is senior outfielder Bailey Drapola. Drapola was one of the 14 transfers who signed with USF. She came from the Pittsburg Panthers where she had a .288 batting average with 56 RBIs and 14 home runs in 98 games. Like Kadlub, her experience can be big in helping the Bulls have a successful 2024. Another senior transfer is Sam Mallinder who transferred from Northern Illinois. While with the Huskies, she batted .298 with 30 RBIs. She was ranked third on her team with 45 hits and 65 total bases. Along with the other three seniors, they can help the new nine freshmen who will suit up for the Bulls. The underclassman starts with redshirt sophomore pitcher/utility Payton Dixon. This will be her second season with USF. She was named AAC Pitcher of the Week of March 13th. Dixon struck out 29 hitters in 32 innings. She also plays in the field and will be given another opportunity to get better in the field which will help the Bulls.
The last player is Kathy Garcia-Soto, a sophomore infielder. She played in the USF vs Puerto Rico National Team on October 23rd. During her 52 appearances, Garcia-Soto was the first freshman named to the AAC Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2023. She hit .266 with three home runs and 14 RBIs. Garcia-Soto is one of the key players that will shine in 2024. These six players along with the others can make the 2024 season a bright one for the USF Bulls. Ken Eriksen has the team ready and let’s see how the 2024 softball season goes.
How do you think the 2024 USF Softball season will go? Leave a comment below.
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