USF's Eriksen, Catalano earn Big East honors
USF's softball team, fresh off the first regular-season Big East championship in school history, picked up two major awards Wednesday night, as coach Ken Eriksen was honored as the league's Coach of the Year, and freshman phenom Capri Catalano was chosen as the conference Rookie of the Year.
Eriksen is the first USF coach to earn Big East Coach of the Year honors after guiding the Bulls to a first-place finish, despite losing his mother to a two-year battle with cancer, and nearly losing junior pitcher Cristi Ecks, who collapsed during a practice session and went nearly three minutes without breathing or a heartbeat before she was revived by athletic trainers on the scene. Eriksen has said the key to his team's success has been their focus, but he's a key to that focus as well.
Catalano, who came to USF after setting state high school records in New Jersey, has been dominant in the pitcher's circle, with the conference's lowest ERA at 0.96, the league high with six saves.
Two Bulls -- senior outfielder Kit Dunbar and junior second baseman Britta Giddens -- were named to the All-Big East first team, while three others -- Courtney Mosch, JoJo Medina and Catalano -- made the second team.
The top-seeded Bulls, hoping to earn only the second Big East tournament championship in USF's three years in the conference, open tournament play at Louisville at 4 p.m. Thursday against eighth-seeded Providence.