The University of Tampa softball team has six players graduating this year: leadoff hitter Julie Wisniewski, cleanup hitter Brittany Hipple, second-basemen Brittany Joseph, starting pitcher Kari Walsh, outfielder Cassie Barnes and catcher Kristi Humphrey.
The statistics show that this has been the best year in recent history for the UT softball team. In their season finale at Eckerd College, the Spartans set the the program record with most wins in a season, at 38. The previous record was 35 wins, which the Spartans had tied going into this past weekend. They ended their season by sweeping Eckerd to improve their overall record to 38-7.
The Spartans will head to regionals next and hope to finish their season at nationals, which takes place in the last three weekends in May. Before then, though, the graduating seniors reflected upon their time and most memorable experiences at UT.
For Wisniewski, the most memorable experience has been this season, with a come-from-behind win against Flagler on Feb. 25 as a specific example.
Humphrey is torn about her favorite memory.
“I don’t know if I have a favorite memory,” she said. “The last four years have been the time of my life and I’m so happy that I played here. It’s been a great experience with this team.”
She agrees with her teammates that this season has been special.
“I’ll miss UT forever,” Humphrey said. “I’ll miss all the girls and I’ll especially miss our coaches. It doesn’t get much better than what we have.”
Barnes recalled a particular moment of her teammate at practice. “My most memorable moment of Kristi is when we were at practice and they were practicing people at the plate. Our coach [Rubio] decided to come in with a football pad and Kristi went at her and knocked her flat on her back. We weren’t expecting her to be that aggressive and neither was Coach Rubes. I think it caught everyone off guard. We all got a good laugh out of it, though.”
For Barnes herself, postseason play is the most memorable. “Mine would be freshman year: making it to the last game in regionals.” A teammate passing by reminded Barnes that this year’s team could go even further and Barnes concurred. “But we haven’t yet.”
As for pitcher Kari Walsh, her most memorable moment qualifies as a blooper.
“Freshman year, I got put in to pinch run against Eckerd and I tripped in between second and third base. My shoestring got caught on my cleat and I fell all the way down.”
It was memorable for her teammates as well.
“It was hilarious and we’ll never let her live it down. Coach couldn’t even be mad; it was that funny,” Barnes said.
When these seniors graduate, the team won’t just be losing significant offense-as three of their first five hitters are graduating- or pitching, but will be losing six great personalities.