TAMPA — The opening weekend for USF's new baseball and softball stadiums, which drew a record 7,577 fans for three baseball games, is already making an impact on season-ticket sales, which are substantially up in both sports.
Baseball, which had 410 season tickets sold last season, is already at 614, and USF administrators are optimistic about reaching 1,000 as the buzz surrounding the new park continues, with a season ticket costing $50 and 25 home games remaining on the schedule. Softball's total jumped from 15 last season to 80, with hopes of reaching 200 season tickets.
"I think people had such a fantastic time that they will definitely return," said Bill McGillis, USF's executive associate athletic director. "We've received a number of e-mails from fans talking about how much fun they had over the weekend."
In 43 seasons at Red McEwen Field, USF's attendance record for a single game was 2,517, set last season against Florida. USF averaged better than that over the first three games (which were free to fans), including 3,125 on Friday's opening night.
Even the baseball stadium's best seats — 68 field-level views that cost $500 each for a full season — are close to selling out.
Athletic director Doug Woolard has long had a slideshow of artist's renderings of USF's facility upgrades — baseball, softball and soccer stadiums, with new practice facilities for football and basketball. Tuesday morning at a GrayRobinson Community Leader Forum in Lakeland, he was proud to replace some slides with actual photos from the opening weekend of baseball and softball.
"It has exceeded my best hopes," Woolard told his audience of the new stadiums and their warm reception from Bulls fans.
SOFTBALL: Freshman 1B Stephanie Medina was named Big East softball player of the week after leading the Bulls with seven hits and seven RBIs last week.
Medina, a Chamberlain graduate who bats cleanup, went 7-for-11 (.636) for the week, with two doubles and two home runs. On the season, she leads the Bulls in batting average (.341) and slugging percentage (.585) and is second on the team with 11 RBIs.
After two losses Sunday, USF is 7-8, its worst record after 15 games since the 2002 season when it opened 5-9-1 and finished 24-33-1.
THIS AND THAT: Sophomore golfer Shena Yang, building on a strong freshman season, won the Cards Challenge just outside Miami on Tuesday, shooting 4-under 212 and winning on the second playoff hole. "From tee to green, there is not a more consistent college golfer than Shena," USF coach Marci Kornegay said. … Baseball's Jonathan Koscso set a painful record Friday when he was hit by a pitch for the 56th time in his four years, breaking the school career mark held by Daniel Boyd. … Saturday will be USF football's second "Junior Day" event, with many top 2012 recruits on hand to see the Bulls practice on their new fields.
Greg Auman can be reached at email@example.com and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bulls.