TAMPA, Fla. — Many young athletes grow up dreaming of representing their country, so imagine the mindset of Lauren Evans as she stepped into the batter’s box against her homeland, the United States.
In 2013, while still in high school, Evans was hooked up with the Great Britain junior team by University of South Florida softball coach Ken Eriksen, and she jumped at the opportunity to play internationally.
Evans’ playing career with the British program began at a game in Brampton, Ontario, against none other than the Stars and Stripes.
“It was my first time ever playing international softball and we played against, of course, the big USA,” said Evans. “I ended up getting a double against them, which was the only hit for our team, so that was a really big moment for me.”
Four years later, Evans is still enjoying the experience and grateful for the opportunity.
“I love it. It’s just a different atmosphere and you get to meet people from all over the world,” said the Land O’ Lakes native. “You get to experience a lot of different cultures, so it’s been amazing.”
Evans credits her growth as a player to the level of competition she has gone against over her years with the program.
“I get to face the best in the world and I get to see a lot of different styles of play,” said the 2016 AAC First-Team member. “I really think that’s made me the player I am today.”
Four year after helping Evans land a try out with Great Britain, Coach Eriksen sees that same development.
“With Evans, nothing shakes her because she’s been against some of the best players in the world at her age group,” said the coach of 21 years. “I think it always lends itself towards experience anytime you can go against countries like Australia, Canada, and Japan.”
The recent decision by the International Olympic Committee to re-include softball in the Olympics has Evans anxiously awaiting 2020.
“We still have to qualify as the best in Europe and Africa, so it’s not going to be easy,” said the hopeful Olympian. “But we’ve been moving forward in the past few years, so I think it’s something we can do.”