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Ken Eriksen to return to USF softball dugout in 2021

The USF alumnus took a leave of absence last winter to coach the U.S. Olympic team.

USF announced Friday that veteran softball coach Ken Eriksen, who took a leave of absence last winter to focus on his duties with the U.S. Olympic team, is returning to the Bulls dugout for the 2021 season.

Eriksen remains the Olympic coach if the Games ultimately are staged in Tokyo in ’21, but a less-demanding touring schedule for the Olympic squad next year will allow him to coach both the Olympians and the Bulls.

The Olympic team embarked on the nationwide “Stand Beside Her” Tour last February before it was shut down due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Behind interim coach Jess Moore, the ’20 Bulls went 16-9, winning 14 of their last 16 before the season was halted.

Related: USF softball scholar Ken Eriksen still keeps it simple

“Pursuant to the (Stand Beside Her) tour being truncated, along with the entire sports world’s seasons going on at the time, the time commitment away from USF softball proved that we had great leadership with acting head coach Jess Moore and assistant coach Tommy Santiago,” Eriksen said in a school news release.

“We did not miss a beat, as I was confident that USF softball was on its way to a back-to-back-to-back (American Athletic Conference) championship run. I am looking forward (to) balancing my full-time commitment with USF and our training/touring with USA Softball in pursuit of the top step at the Olympics in Tokyo to be held in July of 2021.”

The announcement resumes the countdown to Eriksen’s 1,000th career triumph, which almost certainly will occur at some point next spring. The winningest coach (any sport) in Bulls history, he’ll enter the ’21 season with a 975-502-1 mark, with 16 seasons of at least 40 victories.