TAMPA, Fla.– Despite her extraordinary success in high school, Meredith Bissette finds herself having to earn her stripes.
The freshman infielder for the University of South Florida women’s softball team is enduring a frustrating waiting game in her first year of NCAA Division I competition.
She has learned to embrace her time in the dugout though, rather than stress about it.
“It was hard, but I’ve gotten a lot better and I’m a lot more positive now,” Bissette said in the Lee Roy Selmon Athletic Centre before practice Monday afternoon. “I’m definitely trying to earn my spot.”
Bissette came into the USF program boasting an impressive resumé at Leesville High School in her hometown of Raleigh, N.C. She won her team’s Offensive Player of the Year all four years, and during her senior year she was voted team MVP and also broke the school’s home run record.
She has since appeared in nine of USF’s 24 games this season, with two RBIs in nine at-bats.
“It was a little tough at first. I got down on myself,” Bissette said when asked about her limited playing time.
Bissette’s positive attitude has helped her find her role on the Bulls. In particular, she’s found it motivating to work with her teammates in practice.
“It’s more of a team aspect and not just me,” Bissette said. “We’re always competing with each other.”
Head coach Ken Eriksen is proud of his players for pushing each other. But more importantly, he’s impressed with how his veteran players have welcomed freshmen like Bissette with open arms.
“The seniors and juniors have been a very comfortable environment for that freshman class,” Eriksen said. “Environment is everything. You don’t win in the dugout, you don’t win in the locker room, you don’t win out there.”
Eriksen, along with his coaching staff, were a key factor in Bissette’s decision to sign with USF out of high school.
“I love coach Eriksen, coach Mo (Triner), and coach Carmela (Liwag). They are my favourite people,” she said.
Bissette may not be in the everyday lineup now, but her freshman year is one she can build on.
“I’ve had a lot of opportunities that I’ve taken, but not quite there yet,” she said.
One of the next steps Bissette will need to take is establishing a sense of comfort on the field, something Eriksen stresses is crucial in his system.
“They have to feel comfortable,” he said. “They have to feel good to play good.”
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