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February 21, 2013
USF second baseman Nik Alfonso raised eyebrows after a big opening weekend for the Bulls. The redshirt freshman went 5-9 (.556) with three RBIs and five runs scored in the Big East-Big Ten Challenge.
"It had been a long time since I had seen the field, so that was really exciting." Alfonso exclaimed.
A local product from Tampa Catholic High School, Alfonso redshirted last season for the Bulls, making the opening weekend even more meaningful for the infielder.
"That one-year off made me really hungry and excited to get in the lineup and not just be part of a baseball team but to make an impact as a player." Said Alfonso.
A backup to Bulls' sophomore shortstop Kyle Teaf this year, Alfonso got an opportunity to watch the game from a different perspective during his redshirt season.
"Sitting for an entire year, I had a chance to do the books." Described Alfonso, "so I was into every pitch."
Alfonso took advantage of the year on the bench to focus on the scorebooks and every pitch in each game. The infielder quickly realized that he was able to learn a lot while watching from the dugout.
"One thing I picked up on was pitchers and their tendencies and what they were going to throw in certain situations." Alfonso said.
Learning those tendencies obviously paid off for Alfonso this past weekend. The middle infielder came in a bit undersized as a freshman but put on nearly ten pounds of muscle leading up to this season.
"I spent so much time in the weight room. Those trips in the spring I didn't go on last year, I lived in the weight room.
One surprise for the coaching staff has been Alfonso's improvement defensively, another aspect that the Tampa Catholic product attributes to watching the game for a season from the dugout. "To be able to pick up the speed of the game was a big deal and it helped out a lot. "
Alfonso and the Bulls head to Tallahassee this weekend to play No. 9 Florida State. The game is the first meeting between the two programs since 2002 and first series since 1989.