TAMPA ― Conventional wisdom suggests the top-seeded USF softball team’s path to an American Athletic Conference title this weekend goes through reigning champ Tulsa, and perhaps host Houston.
For Ken Eriksen, it must go through Newark and Staten Island as well.
Talk about a squeeze play. If USF (39-17, 17-4) defeats No. 8 Memphis (22-32, 3-17) in Thursday’s AAC tournament opener, the Bulls’ veteran coach will miss Friday’s semifinal to attend his daughter’s college graduation on Staten Island.
Tatiana Eriksen, oldest of Ken and Debra Eriksen’s two girls, formally receives her theater arts diploma from Wagner College on Friday morning.
“Look, I get the stuff where you get time off for bereavement; I get all that,” Eriksen said Tuesday. “But how ’bout the ones who are alive, celebrating what’s going on now? Because those are the things they don’t forget.”
Eriksen and the Bulls were set to fly out Tuesday evening for Houston, where they face Memphis at 11 EST on Thursday. If all goes as scheduled, he’ll fly out Thursday evening from Houston, land in Newark around 12:30 Friday morning, and reach his hotel at roughly 1:30.
The graduation ceremony is Friday at 9:30 a.m. After a celebratory family lunch, Eriksen will head back to the airport at 3 for his scheduled 5 o’clock flight for Houston.
If his team tops Memphis (whom it swept in late April), it would play a tournament semifinal Friday at 2 EST. The title game is Saturday at noon EST.
The Bulls are scheduled to fly back to Tampa on Saturday night.
“And the (NCAA tourney) selection show is Sunday,” Eriksen added.
Someone wake him when the Bulls pop up on the bracket.
Contact Joey Knight at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.