Success in the field has shown Madison Epperson that a little change in focus can go a long way.
The University of South Florida softball player has made the best of an unusual off-season, focusing on her fielding abilities, specifically at first base.
The Junior typically prioritizes hitting, but this year she slightly altered her regimen.
“I also wanted to get better at my field work, which I have, because I’m starting to get a little more playing time at first,” said Epperson, on a Zoom call from Tampa. “I was definitely working on that because … I can help my team offensively, but I also wanted to help defensively.”
Exclusively pencilled in at designated player last year, Epperson was a little nervous in her first fielding appearance of the season.
“I won’t lie. The first time I was out there, I’m like: ‘Ok, this is really happening. But you know what? After I get that first out, I’m going to be fine’ and honestly, I was,” said Epperson. “Now it just feels like another day out there.”
She’s started two games at first base since then, including one contest against No. 2 Arizona.
The Tampa native has been a steady presence in the field this season, recording 12 putouts with a perfect fielding percentage. Listed at 6-feet, though she believes she’s closer to 5-foot-10, Epperson’s height helps her corral line drives, groundballs and errand throws.
Her performance is a testament to her dedication, according to assistant coach Tommy Santiago, who has been coaching Epperson since the fall of 2019.
“When I first started working with her to where she is now is incredible, but it’s all due to her coachability and her work ethic,” said Santiago, via Zoom. “She’s always got the energy to get it right, that makes it easy on the coach.”
The first baseman is happy with her new role, but it’s her contribution to the team’s effort that excites her the most.
“I’m seeing a different tier of what I can do to help my team,” said Epperson. “It’s been really cool and I’m really happy that coach (Ken) Eriksen has given me a chance.”
The Bulls open up a three-game set against the U.S. women’s national team on Friday, which Epperson is looking forward to.
“Just having an opportunity to play Team USA is an honour,” said Epperson “We’re going all out on them. Because why not? They’re the best team in the world.”