Swift-footed Sam is sneaking by opponents

Florida freshman is flying into the future

University softball player beside team logo
Freshman outfielder Sam Walz is looking to use this season as a learning experience (Photo: Nate Ohayon)  

TAMPA, Fla. – Speedy freshman Sam Walz was quick to make an impact with the University of South Florida women’s softball team.

She’s five-for-five on stolen bases this season for the Bulls. This skill came from her style of play, not only stealing lots of bases but also pinch-running and having a good mind for reading the defence.

Walz is the record holder for total stolen bases and runs scored at Newsome High School and was the 2023 Hillsborough County Player of the Year before making the leap to university ball.

The outfielder, a leader in high school, is now learning from older teammates.

Walz said she “likes being a freshman at USF more than being a senior in high school because I learn so much more.”

She thinks the mental part of the game is far more important than the physical. Walz’s veteran teammates are great outlets for helping her in that aspect and have advised her to be patient and have trust in the coach.

That trust goes both ways.

Head coach Ken Eriksen spoke about the outfielder’s impact and how she’s “knocking on the door” to becoming one of the best players on the squad.

“I would go to Vegas and bet that she will break the stolen base record at USF,” he said.

Her performance wouldn’t be as pristine as it is without her high school coach, Ally Ledenham, telling her to “not suck,” according to Walz.

It was Ledenham, she said, who gave her the opportunity to thrive.

Although a university freshman with little playing time, she is still having a major impact on the team.

Walz says her base-stealing skill “hypes the team up which can lead to base hits, RBIs and scoring … I think it really plays an important role and so I take pride in that and just ball out.”

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Posted: Mar 6 2024 11:16 pm
Filed under: Softball Sports