Neither a knee injury nor a change in positions has slowed Brianna Barnhill – or most importantly, her bat.
The Northwest senior continues to swing one of the area’s mightiest bats for the Lady Texans, who are in the middle of the District 4-5A title hunt.
Entering Tuesday’s showdown with Keller Timber Creek, Barnhill is hitting .513 with a team-high three homers and 15 RBIs. Of her 20 hits, 11 have gone for extra bases.
“I’m doing well. I wish I was doing a little better,” Barnhill said. “You have your ups and downs.”
For the four-year letterman, there’s been more ups than downs despite entering the program with high expectations after following her sister Brittany – the 2007 Class 5A Player of the Year.
“The pressure was there my freshman year,” Brianna said. “It was intimidating. But I realized that I’m my own person and had to make a name for myself.”
She’s done that by belting 13 career homers. She hit eight last year while batting .477.
“With the name, there’s big shoes to fill,” said Northwest coach Tanya Morrow. “She’s done a great job of keeping grounded and not worrying about the comparisons.”
In November, Barnhill signed with Abilene Christian to play next year. She was hoping for a worry-free senior year.
But in her second-to-last basketball game, the three-sport athlete sprained the medial collateral ligament in her knee.
“I was out three to four weeks and missed our first tournament,” Barnhill said. “At first it hurt my range.”
Morrow worked Barnhill back into the lineup at second base instead of her usual spot at shortstop. Then, after seeing the amount of chances she was getting on the right side of the infield with lefty Catherine Totty pitching, Morrow decided to leave her there.
“She’s done a great job at second,” Morrow said. “I looked at the spray charts to see where the balls are going. Fifty-one balls have gone to the right side and 31 to the left side. I want her where most of the balls are going.
“She’s a team player and will do what’s best for the team. She can play anywhere.”
Barnhill said the transition from shortstop to second base has been easy.
“I grew up playing second through 14-U,” Barnhill said. “In high school, I moved to shortstop. I like moving around.”
And no matter where she plays in the field, she’ll still be just as dangerous at the plate and a threat to go deep anytime she’s in the batter’s box. She insists that’s not her mindset at the plate.
“My mental approach is to get a base hit and try to hit the ball as solid as possible,” Barnhill said.
CARRYING A BIG BAT
Through 19 games, Brianna Barnhill has been solid at the plate. Here’s her numbers.
Average … Hits … HR … RBI … Slug … OPS
.513 … 20 … 3 … 15 … .897 … 1.475