TAMPA — The moment USF softball coach Ken Eriksen sealed up his 1,000th career victory Friday afternoon, his players might have been the happiest bunch on the planet.
“Before the game we wanted so much to do this today for him,” junior pitcher Georgina Corrick said. “We all wanted this for him.”
Corrick then walked onto the mound against East Carolina and was never better, never sharper, and was, in fact, almost perfect. She allowed no hits in a 5-0 victory while striking out nine and allowing only two Pirates to reach base, one who was hit by a pitch and the other on a walk.
“I personally wanted to do this because he means so much to me, " Corrick said. “The fact that we were able to align the stars like this (with a no-hitter) is incredible. This moment means everything to me and I hope it means everything to him — that we were able to have this moment together. Now no one will ever be able to take that moment away.”
Eriksen, 60, was beaming, and after getting doused by a cooler of ice water, said, “A no-hitter in this game! How do you like that? It was like it was all tied up in a bow.”
Afterward he took a little while to say hello to many well wishers, including: former players and school administrators through his 23 years as the Bulls softball coach, and former coaches and teammates from when he played baseball for USF from 1979 to 1982 at five positions, hitting for a .315 average and owning a 2.48 ERA.
“For people at USF to have faith in me here for all of those years is quite an honor,” said Eriksen, who also serves as coach of the U.S. Olympic team seeking a gold medal in Tokyo later this year. “When you reflect on all of it, you think that was pretty cool. I am so proud of all my players, so many who have gone on in life and done great things.”
One of the things he said he was most proud of is the fact that every single USF softball player he has coached in his 23 years has also graduated.
“The thing I’m going to take away from Coach is what a great teacher he was,” said Corrick, who improved to 19-4. “When I first came in here I was young and stupid and I had so much to learn. He has taught me so much about so many things. Playing for him helps you prepare for you anything.”
As for his 1,000 victories, Eriksen now joins only 27 other Division I coaches to reach that milestone. He also is only one of two coaches to pull off the feat at a Florida school. Florida State’s JoAnne Graf leads the state with 1,186 victories in a 25-year career (1984-2008).
Eriksen — whose record is now 1,000-514-1 with 16 40-plus win seasons and six with 50-plus victories — said he would enjoy the moment for just a little bit, then he would get right back to the grindstone.
“We have a big game tomorrow,” he said. “We have to stay focused.”
USF (25-12, 13-3 in the American Athletic Conference) is still in the hunt to win the conference title with three more games against ECU (11-30, 2-15) this weekend and four next week against arch-rival UCF (34-12, 13-6).
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