In the time it took to read this, a USF pitcher has struck out the side again

John Romano | Georgina Corrick is putting up cartoon-looking numbers for the Bulls as a senior.
USF senior Georgina Corrick has been nearly unhittable this season. Her 0.07 ERA through 98 innings is within range of the NCAA record of 0.04 set by UCLA's Tracy Compton nearly 40 years ago.
USF senior Georgina Corrick has been nearly unhittable this season. Her 0.07 ERA through 98 innings is within range of the NCAA record of 0.04 set by UCLA's Tracy Compton nearly 40 years ago. [ SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times ]
Published March 15, 2022|Updated March 15, 2022

TAMPA — No one can be this good. Let’s begin with that premise.

I mean, the numbers are so preposterous they have to be embellished. A 17-0 record with an 0.06 ERA? Come on. The most strikeouts in the nation and the third-fewest walks per game? Yeah, right.

Then you watch USF pitcher Georgina Corrick face three more batters.

Whoosh! Whoop! Whiff!

Okay, so maybe it’s possible to have a streak of 81 consecutive shutout innings. After all, it’s still 24 innings away from the NCAA record. And I suppose somebody has to lead the nation in innings pitched. But holding opponents to an .094 batting average a month into the season?

Zip! Zap! Zing!

Turns out, it’s true. Every last implausible statistic. Corrick is retiring hitters at a pace that’s not only historic but also hysterical. Just consider the five appearances she made against Florida A&M, Stetson, Army, Stony Brook and UMass in an eight-day span between March 6-13. Corrick faced 96 batters, gave up three hits, two walks and struck out 50.

Surely, she can’t keep up this pace. Clearly, when the competition gets tougher she’ll face adversity. But, then again, who could have imagined it would have gotten this far?

Other than, you know, USF coach Ken Eriksen.

Georgina Corrick fires at batters during a March 5 softball game in Tampa.
Georgina Corrick fires at batters during a March 5 softball game in Tampa. [ KELLY SHEEHAN | Associated Press ]

Corrick may be the recruit of a lifetime for a college coach, but it took Eriksen longer than he first expected to get her to USF. And there was a legitimate reason for that. The first time he saw her pitch for a travel club near her Orlando-area home, Eriksen had no idea who she was.

“I asked her travel coach, ‘Where is she going (to college) next year?’” Eriksen said. “He says, ‘Coach, she’s 13 years old.’ Holy smoke! I was amazed.”

So by the time she was a junior at Seminole High in Sanford, Corrick had already committed to the Bulls because Eriksen was the first college coach to show interest in her. Well, that and the marine biology program at USF that would allow her to chase her academic and athletic dreams simultaneously. Corrick has already earned her bachelor’s degree and is now pursuing a Master’s in global sustainability.

It should also be pointed out that Corrick did not break through unexpectedly as a senior. She’s been one of the NCAA’s top pitchers for several years, compiling a 76-27 record with a 1.24 career ERA coming into 2022. It’s just this year has looked otherworldly from the time the season began.

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And Eriksen says it’s as much about Corrick’s brains as her talent. There is an inquisitiveness to the way Corrick approaches the game. She studies hitters, she looks for patterns, she keeps a mental checklist of pitches she’s thrown throughout a game so she can keep opponents off-balance.

To Corrick, the satisfaction of fooling a hitter may be even greater than blowing a pitch past them. It is, she said, part of the quest to master the three components of pitching in softball: speed, spin and spotting.

Corrick sees the strike zone as four different quadrants that she can attack any time she wants. And making a hitter guess between up-and-in, up-and-away, down-and-in or down-and-away is part of that.

Baseball pitchers, she said, are constantly asking about her repertoire. Does she throw curves? Sliders? Screwballs? The answer is both yes and no. She has so many variations of pitches — that can be changed by the amount of pressure in each finger in her grip — that it’s hard to classify.

“I have a rise ball and I have stuff that breaks either way or breaks down but I think where I find success is I can make tweaks to all of that,” she said. “Obviously, breaking on one plane is not as successful as breaking on two. So if I want to break a ball that goes out and up, I have the control to do that.

“It’s not just my stuff. I’m sure somebody has a better changeup than me. Someone out there has a better rise ball than me. But it’s having the control, and knowing that last time up, she swung and missed at a curveball so now I’m going to give her a curveball that drops. That’s where pride comes in for me. It’s kind of like having a mastery of your craft, being able to make adjustments on the fly.”

Georgina Corrick (22) is greeted by teammates after throwing her 1,000th career strike out during a game on March 5.
Georgina Corrick (22) is greeted by teammates after throwing her 1,000th career strike out during a game on March 5. [ KELLY SHEEHAN | Associated Press ]

Not that the stuff is inconsequential. Corrick says they don’t often use radar guns at USF, but she figures she can hit the mid-to-high 60s when she needs to. When you consider a softball mound is 43 feet from the plate and, at nearly 6 feet tall, Corrick might be within 37 feet of the batter by the time she strides toward the plate.

“Another part of the deal is she’ll vary her speeds anywhere between 58 and 69 mph. Now a 10 mph difference when you’re only 40 feet away can be tough,” Eriksen said. “She’s also worked on getting late breaking movement. Sometimes, you’ll think how did the hitter miss that? Well, did you see how late that pitch broke? She is just so astute with the way she approaches this.”

It’s that cat-and-mouse game with the hitter that Corrick seems to enjoy more than anything. Talk to her long enough and she’ll start pulling out scouting reports of famous pitchers, past and present, with their strengths and weaknesses and the skills she tries to emulate.

Maybe this is all part of growing up around older players. Born in England, Corrick has lived most of her life in Georgia and Florida but remains a British citizen. So she was pitching for the British national team against 30-year-old hitters in international competitions while still a teenager.

She knows there will be opportunities to play professionally in Europe once this season ends, but she’s also got her eye on the 2028 Olympics when softball is expected to make a return to the Games.

Meanwhile, she still has some unfinished business at USF, although the attention she’s been getting lately seems a little embarrassing to her. It’s almost as if she has to condition herself to the possibility that hard times might be around the corner if she doesn’t continue to grow.

“You felt the energy in the stadium when I was getting swing-and-miss, swing-and-miss. Those are very cool moments to me because they are real examples of success,” Corrick said. “You might say I’ve struck out 1,000 batters, but those are still very good hitters with their own scholarships I’m facing.

“So whether it’s my stuff or whether my catcher and I have outsmarted a hitter, it still means something to me because its a tangible result of the work we’ve all put in. That’s cool to me.”

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