Bulls ink 5 top recruits

The softball season of 1996 marked the arrival of USF’s most heralded recruiting class, including All-American Monica Triner and standout pitcher Jennifer Thompson. According to coach Ken Eriksen, next year’s class of five recruits will be just as good.

“This group that comes in right now in all honestly … every one of these players has a viable chance to win a starting position right away for us. That’s very exciting,” Eriksen said. “The level of play for us has picked up quite a bit, and these players are outstanding players. I mean, we have a couple of players coming next year that basically, they’re national team-type players.

“It’s nice to see that we’re getting that type of response from not only Florida, but from across the country now – and even internationally.”

The class includes outfielder Samantha Ray and infielder/catcher Sarah Watson, both from the suburbs of Chicago, as well as local players Krista Holle, an infielder, and Kattrina Dowd, another infielder/catcher.

Christie Chapman, an infielder from British Columbia, Canada, rounds out the recruiting class.

Ray is a left-handed hitter and one of the fastest players Eriksen has ever recruited. She can play the slap game or drive the ball with power.

“She’s a state champion in cross country, she’s a sprint champion in high school, and she’s also a basketball player. The kid’s a flat-out athlete,” Eriksen said. “Her dad was the national champion for wrestling at Oklahoma State University, so she’s got great bloodlines.”

The other Illinois recruit, Watson, is a versatile player who can play a number of different positions. Dowd has valued leadership ability and experience, Eriksen said, while Holle can catch and play third base. She bats leadoff for her club team.

Chapman, a powerful hitter, is expected to challenge incumbent Renee Oursler for the starting shortstop position when she arrives.

“Chapman comes in as a very polished shortstop,” Eriksen said. “She’s going to give Renee a run for her money, and that’s OK. I know Renee is up for the challenge.”

Eriksen said the recruits are also strong academically.

“I’ve always thought that this game is a very cerebral game, so the type of players that we’ve gone out recruiting prove me correct in respect of we’ve been successful with cerebral-type ball players,” he said.

The Bulls reached the NCAA Regionals last season, losing to Michigan in the regional championship.

  • Contact Khari Williams at oraclekhari@yahoo.com