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A quick glance at USF baseball’s upcoming season

Sophomore outfielder Eric Snow is expected to be one of the Bulls’ top players after an outstanding freshman season. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

After playing the toughest schedule in the conference last season, the Bulls finished 21-39 (7-17 AAC) for the worst record under coach Billy Mohl.

Despite a rough regular season, USF made it all the way to the conference semifinals before dropping two straight games to ECU on May 27. 

This year, the Bulls’ conference slate will look a little different than last season, with the arrival of six new teams to the American Conference. 

Here’s a quick look at USF’s upcoming 2024 season.

Preseason projections

South Florida finished last in the American in 2023, yet is projected to have a bounce-back season due to a less intensive non-conference schedule. 

USF was selected to finish fifth out of 10 teams in the American by the league’s head coaches in the 2024 Preseason Poll. Last season, USF was tabbed to finish sixth out of eight teams.  

The Bulls landed five players on the Preseason All-Conference Team: junior utility player Bobby Boser, senior outfielder Drew Butcher, junior pitcher Jack Cebert, senior designated hitter Ben Rozenblum and sophomore infielder Eric Snow. 

Their six All-Conference selections are the second most in the American, only behind ECU (47-19, 18-6 AAC). 

Related: John Montes: Playing both sides of a rivalry

 

He’s ‘Snow’ joke

After being named a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, Snow has emerged as one of the most exciting players on the Bulls roster. 

He led the team with 73 hits and a .343 batting average, tying for the team lead in RBI’s with 42. 

Snow also proved his defensive capabilities, posting a fielding percentage of .979 while only committing five errors in 211 chances. He led the conference with 139 assists en route to being named Defensive Player of the Year. 

Related: Eric Snow: A passion for the game of baseball through his father’s eyes

Conference slate

With the departure of UCF, Houston and Cincinnati to the Big 12 Conference, South Florida will take on five of the six teams added to the AAC this season. 

The Bulls will face Charlotte, Rice, FAU, UTSA and UAB for the first time as conference foes. 

Charlotte (36-28, 17-12 C-USA) earned its first Conference USA Championship last season, making the NCAA Regionals Tournament before losing to Tennessee on June 4. 

Conference series to watch – at ECU (May 3-5)

The Bulls will head to Greeneville for their annual clash against the Pirates. ECU – considered the top team in the conference –  is projected to win the American. 

ECU swept USF in last year’s regular-season finale, losing all three games. The two teams would meet again in the American Conference Tournament, with the Bulls notching a 12-11 opening-round victory against the Pirates. 

USF was then defeated twice by ECU in the semifinals. 

ECU made the NCAA Regional Tournament and finished the season No. 23 in the Top 25 Coaches Poll.

  An old rivalry reunited

USF will face off against a familiar opponent when it takes on UCF in a three-game slate on March 1-3. 

What usually is a historic rivalry will now be an out-of-conference matchup for the two teams, who have met every year since 1984 aside from a shortened 2020 season. 

USF and UCF (33-26, 12-12 AAC) played two series against each other last season, with each team winning its respective series on the road. 

South Florida defeated Central Florida 15-4 in the second round of the AAC Tournament. 

The Bulls hold an 84-81 all-time record over the Knights. 

USF baseball opens the 2024 season at home against UConn on Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and Bulls Unlimited.