USF softball coach Ken Eriksen’s quest for an elusive milestone will be delayed by his pursuit of an even more elusive medal.
Eriksen, who in May was named coach of the U.S. team that will compete in this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo, officially is taking a leave of absence this season so he can focus on his duties with Team USA. Jess Moore, a former All-American pitcher at Oregon and Bulls assistant the past four seasons, is USF’s interim coach.
As a result, Eriksen’s pursuit of 1,000 career victories will be put on hold at least a year. The winningest coach (any sport) in school history, Eriksen is 976-502-1 in 23 seasons.
“This season would not count toward his win total due to his obligations with USA Softball,” Bulls athletic director Michael Kelly said in a text message to the Tampa Bay Times. “The record for this season would technically be Jessica’s.”
The 2020 Bulls, who return two-time American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year Georgina Corrick, were picked to finish first by league coaches in the AAC preseason poll released Tuesday.
While Eriksen will remain in steady communication with Moore, his actual involvement with the team will be limited. In fact, his first game appearance at USF Softball Stadium will be in the visitors dugout.
Eriksen and Team USA will play an exhibition against the Bulls on Feb. 4 to kick off its “Stand Beside Her” tour (ticket information can be found here). A series of nationwide competitions running through late June, the tour will help Team USA prepare for the Olympics and inspire communities to “stand beside” the team, America and “the future generation of female athletes.”
That contest will be followed by five more exhibitions against Division I programs at the NFCA Division I Leadoff Classic, set for Feb. 7-9 in Clearwater.
Olympic competition starts July 22, with the gold medal game to be played six days later.