Alex Wilkes off to blistering start in Bulls’ debut

Freshman turning heads on and off the field

Softball player Alex Wilkes working on her hits during practice to maintain her high batting average (Melissa Akgez photo) 

TAMPA, Fla. — It didn’t take very long for freshman Alex Wilkes to make an impression on University of South Florida softball coach Ken Eriksen. 

She burst onto the scene with strong statistics, where she currently holds a sparkling .391 batting average. In her high school sophomore season, she finished with a .633. 

During her time at Gaither High School, in Tampa, she learned from coach Jerry Murray, how to be calm when playing in high-pressure games. 

“Play to your game. Don’t drop below just because of their team name. Be you. Play you,” said Wilkes, after practice at USF. “He would always tell me to breathe. Sometimes in moments we all tend to tense up”  

Her athleticism didn’t come as a surprise to Eriksen when he recruited Wilkes. It’s not common to see the coach have a freshman play in games frequently, especially that early in the season. 

“She doesn’t play like a freshman,” said Eriksen, in a post-practice scrum. “She plays like an experienced ball player.

“Alex is one of those bright ball players that you put on the ball field, she wins in a locker room, she wins in the dugout, there isn’t a malevolent bone in her body.” 

She’s appreciative of the learning experience from the staff — including not taking everything personally.

“Don’t hear how they’re saying it, hear what they’re saying. Because what they’re saying is so important, we may misinterpret it because of how they’re saying it.”  

Her goal is to win a championship and win the AAC – American Athletic Conference softball tournament – before graduating.  

“I wanna leave a legacy here. Whatever I can do to leave my mark here.”   

She plays on the team with her sister, Jocelyn, who’s a sophomore pitcher on the Junior Varsity. Once Alex becomes a junior, her younger sister is expected to join the team.  

“I think it’s really special because not a lot of people in sports, especially in college, do a D1 program together and something that we shouldn’t be taking for granted.”  

Wilkes takes her academics seriously. She held a 4.0 GPA in her first semester and plans to keep it high all the way through college.   

“I want people to know me as a hard worker and someone who’s honest and can give it their all.”  

Once she graduates from USF, Alex plans to stop playing softball so she can pursue her dream of becoming a pediatrician. She is majoring in bio-medical sciences.  

“Once these four years are done, I’m going to be very appreciative what happened, and I think I want to leave it in my senior year and after that go on to medicine.” 

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Posted: Mar 6 2024 9:09 pm
Filed under: College Sports