Brewer has No. 1 Argos thinking big
Senior shortstop has become of best players in UWF history
Brandon Brewer has established himself as one of the top players in the history of West Florida baseball. But mention that to the talented senior shortstop and he almost feels as if he doesn’t belong among the best.
“Just hearing that gives me goose bumps,” Brewer said. “It’s truly an honor. I’ve been put in a position to accomplish a lot here and I thank the Lord for the opportunity I have been given to succeed.”
Brewer is humble, not that there is anything wrong with that. The thing is, he has every reason not to be when you consider that Brewer is among the top 10 all-time in ten statistical categories, including holding the record for the most assists in school history with 608.
He is also second in runs scored (154), fifth in RBI (117) and fourth in hits (214) at West Florida, where he has started all but one game at shortstop during his career.
His success with the top-ranked Argonauts is hardly a surprise. Brewer, who stands 5-foot-9 and weighs 170 pounds, has always worked hard and played as if he has a chip on his shoulder. Part of it has to do with the fact that he was never one of the biggest players on the field.
“It’s important to improve every day,” Brewer said. “I always want to go out and prove something to myself and to others. My dad instilled the importance of hard work in me when I was young. I was always on the smaller end of teams I played on, so I had to prove myself every single day.”
West Florida head coach Mike Jeffcoat is impressed with the way Brewer has handled his role on the team.
“It is an amazing accomplishment at the four-year level for a player to to step in and play every day at the premier position of shortstop,” Jeffcoat said. “To do that, he has kept himself in great shape and has continued to improve on his game from year to year.”
Brewer first made his mark at Apopka High School in Florida, leading his team to district and conference titles as a sophomore, and he ended up as one of the top recruits out in the North region of the state.
He had hoped to play at the Division I level, however, his grades weren’t quite where they needed to be for him to have a shot at playing big-time college baseball. In the end, though, it all worked out.
“I was on the bubble with my grades, and I wasn’t a big shortstop, so no one really wanted to take a chance on me,” Brewer said. “But I knew someone who helped put me in touch with West Florida, and once I made a visit, there was no doubt that I wanted to play baseball for them. Everything worked out well.”
Brewer is batting .432 for a West Florida team that ranks fifth in the country in batting average (.345). He has cranked out 60 hits, scored 40 runs and has knocked in 31 batters. He also has 12 stolen bases and 135 assists.
It was a different story a year ago. Brewer hit a mere .289, recording 55 hits and scoring 50 times. He finished with 34 RBI and came through with 156 assists.
Brewer is a different player this season, and his play at the plate and in the field is one of the reasons the Argonauts are dreaming of winning an NCAA Division II national championship.
All it took was a little rest and a dose of useful advice from his dad to change his fortunes.
“I went home last summer and had a chance to rest up and work a little bit on my game with my dad,” Brewer said. “I had a frustrating season and my dad asked me about my season and made me realize that part of my problem was that I was trying too hard to be perfect. I’ve learned to just do the best I can and know that at the end of the day, I gave it my all. I’m having a lot more fun this season.”
His teammates deserve credit for his success as well.
“They have kept me grounded and they never let me get too frustrated,” Brewer said. “I have a great support system here. Our team is very close and we have meshed really well together.
It has paid off, especially during the grind of a baseball season where peaks and valleys come with the territory.
“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my career,” Brewer said. “There have been times where I have been on top of my game, and there have been other times where I couldn’t hit a beach ball. I’ve tried to be as consistent as possible and I just try to play as hard as I can in every game.”
As great as numbers have been in the stat sheet, it is a solid work ethic that has allowed Brewer to shine.
“I’ve had to work hard, and we definitely bust our butts at practice,” Brewer said. “We take extra groundballs all of the time and practice being in different situations. When it’s time to play, we are ready to step up.”
Jeffcoat will attest to the hard work Brewer has put in during his career.
“He certainly has taken his offense to the next level of performance this year, hitting well above .400,” Jeffcoat said. “No player will have a chance to have the success on the field Brandon is having without have a great desire to constantly work on improving, and Brandon has done that."
West Florida swept Valdosta State this past weekend in a three-game series as it improved to 40-5 overall and to 15-2 in the Gulf South Conference.
The Argonauts are thrilled with the progress they have made, but their ultimate goal is to play for the national title.
“We know we have to focus on one game at a time, but winning a championship is in the back of our minds,” Brewer said. “We still have a lot of work to do but being able to win a title means more than anything I could accomplish as an individual.”