Apostolakos found a new family at USF softball

Freshman pitcher uses her international experience to thrive at USF

Julia Apostolakos, University of South Florida Softball
2022 New Jersey Athletics Player of the Year Julia Apostolakos warming up at practice (Photo by Eric Cruikshank/Toronto Observer) 

TAMPA, Fla. – It wasn’t until Julia Apostolakos’ final college visit that she knew she found a home at the University of South Florida. 

The deciding factor was a very human moment.

“There was actually one moment with one of our catchers, Josie Foreman, where I said, ‘Damn, I want to come here’,” Apostolakos said before practice at the USF softball stadium on Wednesday. “She was having a bad day, as we all do, and she clearly needed some time to relax.”

“(USF) Coach (Ken) Eriksen went over, and said ‘it’s going to be OK.’”

That moment left a huge impression on the freshman pitcher, and was why she signed with the team in November, 2022.

“Everyone needs to be comfortable to play at their best,” Apostolakos said. “Seeing how much coach cares about his players, and seeing how she trusted him enough to talk to him, that was huge. 

“I knew that if I go here, I’m going to be taken care of and I’m going to be in that family atmosphere.” 

Despite being only 18, Apostolakos has already built an impressive softball resumé. In her three seasons at Donovan Catholic High School (Toms River, New Jersey) she won two state championships, and finished with an 87-4 record, playing a total of 363 innings and recording 663 strikeouts with a combined 0.91 ERA.

Her USF visit wasn’t the first time the Beachwood, New Jersey, native had travelled to Florida for softball-related reasons. As a member of the Greek Women’s National Team, Apostolakos trains in Tarpon Springs every winter in preparation to play on the international stage.

Julia Apostolakos giving the ‘Go Bulls’ hand symbol in front of the iconic USF logo ahead of practice (Photo by: Eric Cruikshank/Toronto Observer)

“It all just came together pretty quickly,” Apostolakos said. “It was my freshman year of high school, and I heard through a friend that they were holding a camp in Tarpon Springs around Christmas and that was when I first got in contact with the team.”

Apostolakos represented Greece at the European Softball World Cup in 2022 and the Canada Cup in 2023, and met with the team earlier this year.

“Playing against some of the most elite players in the world, there’s nothing like it.” Apostolakos said. “To be so young and to play against Team Japan, who won gold in the (2020) Olympics, it’s crazy and it definitely makes you appreciate the game.”

USF Head Coach Ken Eriksen, who was also the head coach of Team USA Women’s Softball team from 2011-2021, recognizes the value of her international experience.

“She’s one of those rare commodities in the sense that prior to coming to college, she’s got international experience,” Eriksen said, in a pre-practice scrum. “She’s another person that’s fit in really well with our program, and to think that she’s just a freshman, the sky’s the limit with her.”

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Posted: Mar 8 2024 6:09 pm
Filed under: Softball Sports