It’s one of the big drawbacks of college sports.
No matter how good an arsenal you collect, within four years — sometimes sooner, even — those weapons are gone.
Saying USF softball’s pitching staff lost some weapons when the 2019 season ended might be an understatement, though
Cheyenne Eggens and Nicole Doyle, USF’s two graduated pitchers, accounted for 46 percent of innings pitched and 30 percent of strikeouts during the 2019 season. As a duo, they combined for a 2.33 ERA, better than all but 31 teams in Division I.
That’s not to say the Bulls are without talent.
Junior Georgina Corrick was a force in the circle last season, posting what tied for the sixth lowest ERA (1.14) in Division I and throwing 21 complete games on her way to being named AAC Pitcher of the Year.
Plus, Corrick brings the upperclassmen mentality that Eggens and Doyle brought.
“For me, as an upperclassman, my job is to be steady and to not let anything waver,” Corrick said, “so that people can look at me and be like, ‘Oh, she’s got it. We’ve got it.’ Sometimes it only takes one person being out there and being in control of a situation. I usually want to let it be me.”
But even though Corrick accounted for more than half of USF’s innings last season, the graduated seniors leave a large hole that has to be accounted for in 2020.
Something being evaluated during the ongoing fall season is finding who can complement Corrick. There are some good choices, according to the Bulls’ ace.
“It’s exciting. We have a lot of good depth,” Corrick said. “Obviously, it’s a huge loss — Nicole Doyle, Cheyenne Eggens. They brought a lot of stuff to this field, not just mechanically — like, as my friends.
“It’s really exciting to have new people in the bullpen, totally new pitches, totally new energies and attitudes.”
One of the new additions to the staff is sophomore Camryn Dolby. In her freshman season at Boston College, Dolby started 15 games, posting a 10-10 record and 5.75 ERA.
“She’s very, very smart,” assistant coach Jessica Moore said. “So it’s just kind of getting her back in rhythm with the way that our system works. That’s always a tough transition when you come somewhere new.
“I’m excited to see what she’s going to do over this fall. Pitching, it takes a little bit of time. Enhancing her stuff has been fun, and we’ve just got to get her comfortable now.”
Though it may change by the time the season begins in February, there’s only one true freshman pitcher on the roster, Vivian Ponn. Redshirt freshman Jordyn Kadlub, who did not play in 2019, is the only other freshman pitcher.
While there’s always a chance of growing pains for the newcomers — after all, they are joining the back-to-back AAC regular-season champions and playing with Corrick, who nearly led Great Britain to the 2020 Olympics over the summer — Moore thinks things will be all right.
“At the end of the day, they kind of know what they were walking into through the recruiting process,” Moore said. “I think we’ve gotten some really, really good individuals that were ready to come into this program and be successful and be challenged.”
Sophomore Brittany Hook is also a strong candidate to see more action in 2020. Thanks to the depth in front of her last season, Hook only saw game action seven times, usually when things were out of hand for the Bulls.
The 2019 season was more about learning for the Pennsylvania native, and thankfully for Hook, she had veteran presence to help her through it.
“Last year, I definitely think I learned more not throwing,” Hook said, “having mentors like Nicole Doyle — Nicole Doyle was huge for me. She helped me as a freshman.
“And I want to do the same for the freshmen this year. I want to teach them it’s OK to fail. It’s OK, you need to grow and trust the process.”
Regardless of which pitcher or pair of pitchers replace the departed seniors, Corrick is embracing the opportunity to work with new faces.
“I think it’s good to work with them in the bullpen,” Corrick said. “They give you a fresh idea and a fresh perspective on how they throw, and I think each one of us learns something from each other every single day.”