Lauren Evans readies to catch a ball coming her way during a USF Softball practice on March 8. Evans has produced a .304 batting average for her team this season.

USF sophomore Evans excelling at mental game

Infielder piling up the stats for Bulls

TAMPA, Fla. —  Softball player Lauren Evans has avoided the dreaded sophomore slump with flying colours.

Evans, who plays first base for the University of South Florida (USF), has increased her batting average from .266 to .304, and her slugging percentage from .395 to .536.

The native of Land O’Lakes, Florida, says a big contributor to her success has come from a change in mentality.

“As a freshman you worry about a lot of things,” said Evans. “I have matured a little bit and now I am just focused on going out there and producing for my team.”

Lauren Evans has been in the starting lineup for each of the 24 games her team has played so far this season.
Lauren Evans has been in the starting lineup for each of the 24 games her team has played so far this season. (Quinton Amundson)

Her strong performance has led to her being one of the statistical leaders on her team, which currently sports a 12-9 record in the American Athletic Conference.

Ken Erisken, USF’s head coach, says Evans has excelled this season because “she has an aptitude for the game and a capacity for the game,” and because “she is a great student, not only on the field but also off.”

The 19-year-old, who has a 0.359 on-base percentage, agrees with her coach that a deep understanding of the game has been an advantage for her.  And she aims to use this knowledge in every play of the game.

Evans says she tries to picture in her head if the ball comes to her what she will do. She thinks ahead of the play to be aware of her surroundings in order to determine what will happen next.

Evans, who is six-foot-one in height, is hoping her mental toughness, combined with her physical gifts, will help lead her team to a 2016 NCAA Division I Softball Championship.

Earlier this season that goal may have seemed to be unattainable, considering this team started the season 2-7.  USF has rebounded in a big way by winning 10 of its last 12 games.

“Things were not just clicking as well as they should have, but now because of all of our practices and the experience we have gotten in games we are starting to come together, and people are starting to realize we are a really good team.”

Follow me on Twitter: @QuintonAmundson