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TBO: Bulls Infielders Are Alike

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Side-By Side Comparison: Bulls Infielders Are Alike

By BRETT McMURPHY bmcmurphy@tampatrib.com

Published: May 11, 2006

TAMPA - Since Christie Chapman and Krista Holle arrived at the University of South Florida four years ago, they've literally been side-by-side on the softball diamond: Chapman at shortstop, Holle at third base.

"They've been the cornerstone since 2003," USF coach Ken Eriksen said. "They were brought in here to basically feed balls that way. Our [pitching] philosophy is to jam [opposing batters] in crucial situations, and it's worked out well."

Behind Holle and Chapman, the Bulls (47-21) finished second in the Big East and meet Pittsburgh (31-26) today in a Big East Tournament opener.

Holle and Chapman's play on the left side of the infield and at the plate are a big reason USF is expected to receive a school-record fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament berth Sunday.

A big reason for their success at USF? Well, it wasn't too long ago these two were just one of the boys.

Growing up, both Chapman and Holle opted to play competitive baseball with the boys instead of softball. Chapman played second base and shortstop in Vancouver, while Holle was a second baseman for Tampa's Northside Little League.

"The girls weren't very good," said Chapman, who switched from softball to baseball in fourth grade. "It was annoying.

"Baseball helped me tremendously with everything because when you're a girl, you have to be one of the best players. It helps with your mind-set even when you're little. Plus, you have to be twice as good to be accepted."

Chapman's mother, Jill, joked that she made her daughter stop playing baseball with the boys when her teammates started asking Christie out.

Holle played baseball from age 5 until she got to Chamberlain High.

"I just started out playing baseball and didn't want to switch over," Holle said. "Once you prove yourself to the boys, you belong just like they do. It wasn't hard to fit in, but you have to prove yourself the first day."

Eriksen said both players benefited from playing baseball at a young age.

"Any time you can play the bat and ball game at a high level, it will help you," Eriksen said. "Those are two mentally tough kids that could still play baseball if they wanted to. At the younger [age] level, it's better the higher competitive point you can play."

Holle is tied for the Big East lead with 72 hits and ranks eighth in the league in batting average (.365). Chapman ranks second on USF this season in average (.316), hits (62), triples (five), home runs (seven) and RBIs (37).

In high school, they both were dominant softball players.

Eriksen first saw Chapman, then a junior in high school, playing for Canada in an international tournament against the U.S. national team he was coaching to determine the U.S. Olympic team.

"He thought I was in junior college," Chapman said.

Chapman eventually decided on USF, even though it was nearly 2,600 miles from Vancouver, while Holle didn't even have to travel 26 miles across town.

"There was no reason to leave with a program like this so close to home," Holle said.

Besides playing side-by-side since they arrived at USF, Chapman and Holle have been roommates since their sophomore year. Saturday the roommates graduated - as did all of USF's senior softball players, Holle with a finance degree, Chapman an advertising degree.

"I can't believe it's almost over," Holle said.

FIVE BULLS HONORED: Freshman pitcher Cristi Ecks was named Big East co-rookie of the year and named to the All-Big East first team along with Holle.

Senior pitcher Bree Spence and senior center fielder Samantha Ray were second-team all-league selections and sophomore catcher Laura Wolf made the third-team.


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Anyone see that about Cristi Ecks? All Big East 1st team as a frosh... don't say I didn't tell you guys this girl is special!

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We are definetely going to miss Chappy and Krista next season but I think Britta Giddons can move to short and with as good as Eriksen is at recruiting, I would not be surprised to see no dropoff next season....And Ecks is amazing with amazing stuff....Team her with Bree and we have the best pitching tandem in the conference and maybe top 10 in the nation I believe bc all the big schools only have 1 dominant pitcher....This team just might make it to Oklahoma City this year

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Two years away... but here's hoping we sneak a couple wins out!

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