With less than a month remaining until USF softball begins the defense of its 2016 regular season conference championship on Feb. 9, the Bulls were picked to finish second in 2017 in the annual AAC coaches’ poll.
The Bulls return 15 players from last year’s roster including AAC Player of the Year Juli Weber and all-conference players Lauren Evans, Astin Donovan and Kristen Wyckoff.
Both Weber and Wyckoff hit over .400 in 2016 and lead all returners in hits and runs scored over the past season.
USF, which finished 45-16 last season and qualified for the NCAA Tournament, received 32 points in the poll, including three first-place votes. Tulsa, which won the conference tournament in 2016, was picked to finish first with four first-place votes and 34 total points.
The Bulls were picked to finish fourth out of seven AAC teams in 2016, but finished in first with a 15-3 record in conference play.
Adams to miss Shrine Game
After having a player in the East-West Shrine Game for the past nine seasons, USF will break its streak as Rodney Adams has chosen to sit out while his ankle heals from injuring it in the Birmingham Bowl, according to a Tampa Bay Times report.
Playing as USF’s top receiving option in 2016, Adams led the Bulls with 67 catches for 822 yards and five touchdowns along with 23 rushes for 248 yards and five touchdowns.
Scheduled for 3 p.m. on Saturday at Tropicana Field, the Shrine game features players who have had exceptional senior seasons.
Aside from Adams, six other Florida players were selected for the East team: offensive tackle Dieugot Joseph, FSU receiver Kermit Whitfield, FSU offensive guard Kareem Are, Florida defensive end Bryan Cox, Florida defensive tackle Joey Ivie IV and FAU defensive end Trey Hendrickson
UCF player scores 38 in rout of Bulls
In search of its first win in both conference play and under interim coach Murry Bartow, USF struggled to contain UCF’s long-range shooting in an 86-64 loss Tuesday night at CFE Arena.
Guard Matt Williams led the Knights’ scoring effort as he made 11-of-21 3-pointers on his way to scoring a game-high 38 points.
Though the rest of the Knights combined to shoot 3-of-15 from beyond the arc, Williams’ sharp-shooting was enough for UCF to cruise to the finish.
‘When a team makes 14 threes on us, it makes it very difficult (to win)…Matt Williams was obviously the difference in the game,” Bartow said.
USF (6-11, 0-6) will try for its first win since an 81-53 defeat of Delaware on Dec. 22 when it hosts Tulsa at the Sun Dome on Saturday at 1 p.m.