TAMPA, Fla. – If AnaMarie Bruni passed her freshman self on the street, she would no doubt think it was a complete stranger.
Now in the twilight of her career with the University of South Florida Bulls softball team, the senior center-fielder’s growth and maturation have been immense, to say the least.
Her transformation has been so drastic that she doesn’t even think it is fair to compare the two versions of herself.
“Oh, they are two totally different people,” said Bruni, with a laugh. “When I first came to the program, I think it was definitely a struggle mentally just to get on the same page as my athletic ability. Once I was able to align those two, I felt like I could do anything.”
Bruni admits that much of her growth can be attributed to the coaching she received at USF, particularly by head coach Ken Eriksen, who is currently on leave with the Team USA softball team.
“Ken has pushed me; he’s been pushing me since freshman year,” said Bruni, standing just in front of the USF dugout. “Last year it just really clicked for me. We had a great relationship last year, and I really miss him.”
Even with Erikson gone, Bruni has continued to thrive under the leadership of interim head coach Jessica Moore. The senior is hitting a team-high .463, and is leading the team in total bases with 42. She was also named as one of 30 finalists for the 2020 Senior Class Award, which will be handed out in June.
According to Moore, part of the reason for Bruni’s success is that she is simply letting the game come to her.
“She doesn’t have to try as hard or push as much as she did when she first came here,” said Moore. “She gets to just come out every day and enjoy it, so it has been really fun watching her.”
Unfortunately for the Bulls, and the softball world in general, Bruni’s career in competitive softball is coming to an end, as she intends to pursue a career in nursing back in her home state of Pennsylvania.
However, beer league teams in her home state need beware, as Bruni has not hung up the bat for good.
“Oh ya, I am going to join coed slo-pitch for sure,” said Bruni, grinning. “My Dad has a team, and I think he is really excited for me to play with him.”