TAMPA, Fla. – It took a while, but Samantha Blashinsky has finally found her home away from home.
Migrating from Ohio to attend the University of South Florida was hard enough, but the Bulls’ utility player also had to go from playing at a lower-level high school to competing in Division I.
She admits to feeling nervous when she first arrived.
“I was far from home, but as soon as I got here, the environment was super comfortable,” said Blashinsky, while waiting to warm up for Thursday practice. “Everybody was welcoming.”
The Ohio native had visited USF for softball camps every year since eighth grade, but adjusting to the tropical climate was a difficult one.
“The first day of practice, I wore Under Armour because that’s what everybody does down here, and I’m like ‘Okay, maybe it works.’ So, I’m wearing it, and … I was so hot and I started shivering because of the cold sweat.
“It was an adjustment with the heat, not going to lie, but as a week went by, my body got adjusted to it.”
Put all of that together, and it’s no surprise that coach Ken Eriksen believed Blashinsky didn’t belong on the team when she first arrived.
“[Blashinsky] couldn’t catch worth a darn, in respect to the Division I level, couldn’t throw worth a darn … [and] couldn’t run worth a darn.”
But Blashinsky is a fierce competitor, and has been around softball most of her life. During high school, she enrolled in a travel ball program so that she could play it year-round. In fact, she hasn’t recalled having a summer without playing softball since she was 10.
Through 23 games this season, Blashisnky has yet to crack the starting lineup.
Eriksen’s opinion has turned 180 degrees.
“She’s had the most marked improvement on our team in respect to belonging out on the ball field. She’s becoming more comfortable in her own skin.”