Accolades arrive early for USF softball team

The USF softball team is being recognized early after posting the second best record in school history (54-19) last season. Yesterday, the ESPNUSA Today preseason softball poll was released, showing the Bulls had received two votes.

“I think it’s unbelievable,” USF coach Ken Eriksen said in a news release yesterday. “I would be interested to see who voted. It seemed to me that the poll favored teams that had players on it from the West Coast.”

The poll, voted on by various Division I coaches and selected media members, features two teams that the Bulls beat last season, No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 14 DePaul. Two other teams receiving votes were also defeated by USF; FAU, which the Bulls defeated twice, and Notre Dame.

The Bulls will get a taste of the country’s elite early in the season. After playing FAU on opening day Jan. 31, USF will host No. 24 Michigan State one week later. Less than two weeks after playing against the Spartans, USF will play No. 22 Oklahoma State, No. 3 Arizona and No. 12 Stanford in one weekend at the University of Arizona Tournament. USF will also be playing Florida, which received 37 votes.

After the tournament in Arizona, USF will not see a preseason powerhouse again until it faces off against Conference USA rival DePaul at the beginning of May.

The preseason recognition comes three months after the Bulls were placed in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Time Top-50 and Academic Top 10. The top 50 poll was decided by using national rankings from 1995 to the end of the 2003 season and the Bulls were ranked No. 22. The Academic Top10 was based on the team’s grade point average, which was 3.395 and good enough for No. 8 on the poll.