TAMPA ― Her athletic life began with trial and error. After error. After error.
Georgina Corrick’s dad desperately wanted her to find a sport she enjoyed, and at which the lanky prepubescent could excel. There was only one glitch.
“I sucked at every other sport,” Corrick said with a laugh.
She tried swimming, and discovered she had the buoyancy of a cue ball. She was a goalkeeper in soccer, but found the sport so boring she’d nap inside the net. Her stab at golf, at Charlotte County’s Lemon Bay Golf Club, abruptly ended when her slice found a nearby vehicle.
“There was this massive wall of trees, and I took a hack at it, and it just sailed right over the trees and I heard something, like a car alarm, go off,” Corrick recalled. “And I was like, ‘Okay, we’re gonna skip this hole.’”
Softball represented a last resort. John Corrick, a software designer who moved his family from England when Georgina was an infant, spotted an ad in the paper for a local rec-league team, and urged the older of his two girls to give it a shot.
In no time, the misfit became a marvel.
Today, Corrick, two-time American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year, steps in the circle for USF (40-17) in its NCAA Tournament opener against South Carolina (36-17).
“I ended up sticking with it and it became my passion,” she said. “And it’s something that I’ve loved for eight or nine years.”
A 5-foot-11 right-handed sophomore born in Basingstoke, England, Corrick is evolving into the Bulls’ most dominant pitcher since Pinellas Park lefty Sara Nevins, who led USF to its only College World Series in 2012.
Steely in the circle, and equipped with an assortment of off-speed pitches, she led the American Athletic Conference in victories (24-4), ERA (0.90), strikeouts (241 in 195 innings), opponents’ batting average (.161) and shutouts (11) in the regular season.
As a rookie, she finished 15-9 with a 1.68 ERA, tossing 10 complete games and a no-hitter.
Though she possesses an elite-level fastball, Corrick often defers instead to a screwball-type runner that goes inside on right-handers, a cutter that curves away from righties, a changeup and a rise ball.
“For her to throw the changeup consistently,” teammate Lindsey Devitt said, “that’s what makes her so tough.”
Yet entering middle school, Corrick, 20, barely had broken in her first pair of cleats. She played catcher upon being introduced to the sport, discovered an ability to hit, and joined her first travel team (the Englewood Bombers).
She really found her calling as a pitcher when her family moved to Sanford, and she began taking private lessons from Shannon Steinhilber, who owned an Orlando-area softball academy and played catcher at Birmingham Southern.
“So many of these girls that start at 6, 7, 8 years old, by the time they make it to college, they are burned out and they’re injured,” Steinhilber said. “She has that in her favor; she got to peak when it really mattered.”
She was just starting to blossom when Bulls coach Ken Eriksen spotted her while scouting a couple of her teammates at a travel-ball game.
“There were two little players on that team that had some speed, and you see this big blonde on the hill and I was like, ‘Wow, she’s pretty good. I wonder where she’s going (to college),’” Eriksen recalled.
“I went over to her coach after the game and I went, ‘Hey man, that was a pretty impressive game by your big pitcher. Where is she going to school?’ And he says, ‘Georg is just a freshman.’ I went, ‘She what?’”
At Sanford’s Seminole High, she struck out 758 in 476 career innings, and also competed internationally for Team Great Britain. Corrick, who speaks with a mild lisp but zero British accent, remains a full English citizen.
“She’s pitching in the (age-group) World Championship in 2016 and shutting Japan down for five or six innings,” Eriksen said.
“So you knew you had a guy that was unflappable, a guy that just played the game the way the game’s supposed to be played, and she’s carried that on to when she got here. So we’re lucky.”
Eriksen will need his British bulldog today. South Carolina trounced USF, 8-1, in Tampa on March 1, but Corrick didn’t pitch in that contest.
She was, however, in the circle a week later against NCAA Tournament qualifier Wisconsin, allowing one hit in 6-2/3 innings in a 7-1 Bulls triumph. She also started a month later at No. 5 overall NCAA tourney seed Florida, allowing one hit over seven innings in a 1-0 defeat.
"She always has kind of enjoyed outsmarting the hitter and not just necessarily trying to overpower the hitter," Steinhilber said.
“That’s always kind of been her thing. She’s so intellectual, and I feel like that definitely has taken her pitching to another level.”
Contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.
Where/when: JoAnne Graf Field, Tallahassee, today-Sunday
Today’s games: USF (40-17) vs. South Carolina (36-17), noon; FSU (51-8) vs. Bethune-Cookman (26-29), 2:30
TV: USF-South Carolina on SEC Network, FSU-Bethune-Cookman on ESPNU