Applause in anticipation of a home run is the sound heard when Nikki Grupp is up to bat.

Before that, she was a young girl originally from Pennsylvania before her family made the move to Jacksonville, Florida.

Nikki Grupp (Courtesy of ETSU Bucs)

Grupp’s dad is the reason she started picked up a bat at age five, playing t-ball with the boys. That led to her playing recreation and travel ball.

Grupp knew softball was the sport for her in eighth grade, and growing up in Florida she had the opportunity to watch the University of Florida and described how it had a real impact on her.

“I just saw the love and the passion that all the girls had for the game,” Grupp said. “I noticed in travel ball it was getting really competitive and I was like, I really want to do this.”

Besides playing softball, Grupp also enjoyed volleyball but her high school coaches were not big on playing multiple sports. That lead to her ultimately to sticking to softball and she has not looked back since.

Head Coach Brad Irwin sold Grupp on coming to play for him at ETSU by being a father figure.

“It was more than just about softball which was a selling point for me because Johnson City is far from home,” Grupp said. “I was nervous even coming here to visit at 17 but he [Irwin] had guaranteed me regardless of how softball goes he will always be there for me.”

Since being at ETSU Grupp has certainly made her impact on the program, especially her freshman year, helping the Bucs secure the Southern Conference championship.

“My favorite moment these years has been getting to go play Auburn which was really exciting,” said Grupp. “Just being able to go travel with the team and play a big school on TV to showcase our program was really exciting.”

Grupp feels like ETSU has really helped her grow as a person by teaching her independence and leadership. Because of the program, she has become the type of leader to make sure the team chemistry is tight.

Coming into the season Grupp had no personal goals. Her focus was simple: win, and the Bucs have shown they are very capable of doing so.