Freshman Bulls’ catcher and outfielder Lee Ann Spivey was named to the 2013 USA Women’s Junior National Team, comprised of the best 17 players in the nation age 19 and under.
Though national tryouts took place in her last two years of high school, Spivey has proved that she was worthy of consideration this season, performing well against Division-I competition.
She is third on the Bulls’ roster with a .330 batting average, second in runs batted in with 24 and first in doubles with 11, which is good for second in the Big East overall.
A native of Palm Coast, Fla., Spivey has played baseball for 10 years.
She batted fourth and played first base — a position that is often occupied by a power hitter.
Opposing coaches treated her as if she was the weakest player on the team. She said they assumed that she couldn’t hit the ball far because she’s a girl, and always called the defense in close.
“Then I’d hit a triple over the defense and they played me like a regular guy after that,” she said.
Spivey never appeared to be a ‘regular’ on the field though — her childhood goal was to be the first female Major League Baseball player, but realized it wouldn’t be possible unless there was a change to MLB rules.
But when she had to switch to softball before high school, she set her sights on a new goal — representing America as a member of the USA Softball National Team, the premier competition level for women’s fastpitch softball.
About five years later, her dream has nearly come true.
“I was really excited and proud,” she said of when she was named to the junior team. “First thing I did was call my dad, and he started crying. It’s just an honor.”
Having been named to the Junior National team, she’s a year away from consideration for the National Team, which is led by Bulls coach Ken Eriksen.
He was the first coach to recruit Spivey and said he was always confident in the player she would become, but never had to give her advice on pursuing national team membership.
A .500 batting average in each year of high school, good performances at softball camps and with her travel softball team spread the word about Spivey’s talents.
“Those honors come about because they’re great players,” Eriksen said. “She did really well at nationals the last two years. I just tell her the little things that will make her successful in college will make her successful on the junior team, and for her, it’s to control her strong arm and keep her heart rate down.”
Just thinking about the opportunity seemed to boost her heart rate, as she paused for a few moments to think about what it’s going to be like to represent the United States this summer.
“I’ll try to not let it get too nerve-wracking, because it’s a big deal,” she said. “I’m going to play the game like I know how to play it.”
Spivey knew she wanted to play at USF after attending a camp hosted by Eriksen in eighth grade, long before the new athletic facilities and softball stadium were built on campus.
“I loved Ken’s coaching philosophies and I bought right into it,” she said. “I love him as a person. He’s an amazing guy.”
She verbally committed to play softball for the Bulls during her sophomore year of high school.
“I came on an official visit here and I loved the campus,” she said. “I went on other visits but every time I left those I’d say ‘I want to go back to USF.’ It was definitely more of a family atmosphere here.”
In her spare time, Spivey said she enjoys doing things that most people don’t do.
She was part of a tutoring program for children with learning disabilities.
She’s certified to work in a mechanics shop after taking two automotive classes in high school and she has a boating license.
If you’re lucky enough to find her away from the softball field, she may be able to help you with your automotive needs.
“I did a brake job on my car, and I’ve done oil changes and changed filters for people,” she said.
Spivey, majoring in business and criminology, said she hopes to combine her boating experience with her mechanic skills.
“When I grow up, I want to transition to working on boats and open my own marina,” she said.12