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Freshman nabs her first Big East award, team’s second

USF softball player Cristi Ecks (15-9) was chosen as Big East Conference Pitcher of the Week for the week ending April 9, as announced by the league office April 10.

The freshman right-hander posted a perfect 0.00 ERA and compiled a 2-0 record during the week, helping the Bulls continue their nine-game winning streak and improve their conference record to 6-0.

As a freshman, Ecks has made an immediate impact for the Bulls this season. The Manassas, Va., native posts an ERA of 0.98, leads the team with 155 strikeouts and is the perfect complement to sophomore Bree Spence (16-6), who started 37 of the Bulls 70 games last season.

“I think (Ecks) has added a great dimension with her and Bree pitching together,” coach Ken Eriksen said. “I think they play off each other really well, and their success is largely due to each other.”

Ecks’ impact as a freshman is similar to that of Spence, who came to USF last season and proceeded to break the school’s freshman records for wins (23), games pitched (51) and innings pitched (243.2) while compiling a 23-14 record.

Spence has already won the award for the second week of the season.

Eriksen feels fortunate to have recruited such talented pitchers two years in a row and believes the future of the Bulls’ pitching staff looks bright.

“I feel very fortunate that they both decided to come to the University of South Florida,” Eriksen said. “Next year, we have (Ecks and Spence) coming back – Bree will be a junior, and Cristi will be a sophomore – and Courtney Mosch, an outstanding pitcher who transferred to us from Syracuse University, will be a junior, so I think we’re going to be in a pretty solid situation.”