Centre-fielder Bruni takes on leadership role in junior year at USF

Star uses her own experiences to help younger players

AnaMarie Bruni throws a ball from centre field in an afternoon game.
Centre Fielder AnaMarie Bruni fields a ball hit to the outfield in a game against Central Michigan University. The junior has started every game for the USF Bulls this season. Jamie Branje

TAMPA, Fla. – AnaMarie Bruni knows the struggle of adapting to university softball, and she works to help teammates overcome the same.

After all, the junior centre-fielder for the University of South Florida Bulls experienced a difficult growing period herself when she joined as a freshman.

Her goal now is to help bring everyone else up to her level.

AnaMarie Bruni waits for a ball to reach the outfield in a night game against Furman.

Centre Fielder AnaMarie Bruni approaches a ball hit to the outfield in a game against Furman. The junior has started every game for the USF Bulls this season. (Jamie Branje)

“I honestly take on a lot, I feel like I try to take on more responsibility as in teaching what I’ve been taught over the past few years because my first two years were obviously big learning years for me,” said Bruni, after a pair of wins last Wednesday night.

The left-handed hitting Bruni started 88 games for USF in her first two years, batting .261 with 13 runs batted in and a .941 fielding percentage.

Now in her third season, she has become a star and leader, batting .392 in starting all 27 games to this point for the Bulls. She hit her first career home run on Feb. 24 against Texas State, and is maintaining a perfect fielding percentage.

“I like to lead by example, even if I’m not one of the older people so now I feel that I do have a leadership role and I always like to be a leader by example,” Bruni said.

“It’s hard coming in to a whole new system and being able to be adaptable, so I like to show [my teammates] kind of what’s helped me learn faster instead of them having to go through the ruts.”

One member of the team that has noticed and applauded her growth is the coach, Ken Eriksen.

“She is the epitome of what hard work has produced,” he said, sitting in the dugout following a double header sweep of Central Michigan, and Furman. “She came in as a freshman, she struggled … trying to feel her way out.

“She worked so hard her first year and her second year here that she’s probably one of the best centre-fielders we’ve ever had.”

He watches and understands what Bruni offers to the team and her teammates, and he approves the way that she looks at it.

“When players look at her they know the story of where she came from and how hard she’s worked to maintain that level,” said Eriksen. “I think that leadership is seen, not necessarily heard, and Ana Bruni is a good example of that.”

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Posted: Mar 10 2019 8:36 pm
Filed under: Softball Sports