The USF softball team has epitomized the word improvement this season. The same goes for one of its biggest weapons, sophomore shortstop Kourtney Salvarola, who has continued to develop after her breakout freshman season.
Like last season, Salvarola started all 53 games one of just five players on the team to do so. She led the team in several categories, including batting average and hits. Salvarola hit .342 this year, after hitting .290 in 2011, and had 51 hits this season.
I think that a lot of my success is due to my great coaching staff and my supportive team, Salvarola said. My success wouldnt be possible without them.
After her freshman season, Salvarola joined the USA Softball Junior Womens National Team. She was one of 17 athletes in the nation named to the team.
I learned a lot when I went out there, she said. I just learned from the girls I played with and that allowed me bring the stuff I learned to this program. I just think it helped as far as me being more comfortable and confident in my own abilities.
Though her freshman year was impressive, Salvarola found success prior to college. She starred at Broadneck High School in Maryland, lettering in varsity softball, being named team captain and winning Player of the Year all four years.
Her accomplished past has only been matched by her success with the Bulls. Salvarola was selected for the All-Big East First Team this year after batting .407 in conference play. During Big East play she also led the team with 14 RBIs and was 6-6 for stealing bases.
Her defense is creating her offense and her respectability, coach Ken Eriksen said. To be an all-around complete player youve got to work on both sides of the ball, and she has. I dont think theres anybody on the team that I can say has improved as much in her defensive spot as Kourtney Salvarola has, and shes already good so thats just a testament to her hard work.
Even with her on-field success, Salvarola refuses to let up on the work she puts into the classroom or the relationships that she keeps with her teammates.
As an elementary education major, Salvarola hopes to one day teach on a professional level. Despite the stress of classes, Salvarola said the relationship that she shares with her team has helped her both on and off the field.
This years team we all get along great, we all support each other, and that allowed me to be more comfortable and not worry about all the pressures, she said.
Thanks to USFs NCAA regionals berth, Salvarola has been able to cross one goal off of her checklist, but shes already moved on to the next one: a berth in the College World Series, played in Oklahoma City.
USF will travel to Gainesville this Friday to for a double-elimination regional round that includes the University of Florida, Florida Gulf Coast, and the University of Central Florida, which the Bulls will open with Friday at 3:30 p.m.