Best is yet to come
Central Oklahoma's Brunson ends season on high note
SALEM, Va. -- Kaylee Brunson will turn 21 in September, so it’s fair to say that her best days should still be ahead of her.
Brunson might even have more national tournaments in her future. The young Bronchos claimed the school’s first NCAA Division II softball championship by beating Kutztown (Pa.) 5-2 in nine innings on Monday at the James I. Moyer Sports Complex.
But even at age 20, Brunson acknowledges she may never have a weekend quite like the one she just completed.
Brunson’s offensive production through Central Oklahoma’s final four games wasn’t just great – it was borderline unbelievable. She hit .733 during the tournament – 11-for-15 – and scored seven runs.
“I honestly don’t know,” Brunson said when trying to describe the secret of her performance. “All of my at-bats were such a blur. It was so exciting. I was so excited to be there. I focused in a lot better this weekend than I had the rest of the season.
“This forever will probably be the best weekend I’ve ever had.”
How good of a finish to the season was this? Consider that coming into the tournament, Brunson was hitting .371 for the season with 143 at-bats. She closed the books for 2013 with a .405 batting average – just 11 points behind the Bronchos’ Kacie Edwards, the senior slugger who holds just about every hitting record Central Oklahoma has on its books.
Brunson, who hit in front of Edwards through most of the season, said that having such a good hitter right behind her in the lineup was always a motivator to find a way to get on base.
“I know if I do my job and get on base, I know that Kacie [Edwards] is probably going to move me around, or hit a home run and knock me in,” Brunson said. “With her out there, we’re going to score 99 percent of the time.”
That was once again the case in Monday’s game, as Brunson played a role in all three of the Bronchos’ run-producing innings.
After leadoff hitter Ally Dziadula doubled in the top of the first, Brunson, in one of her few hitless at-bats, ground out, but moved Dziadula over to third. Edwards then proceeded to single Dziadula in.
In the seventh inning, with the score tied at one, Brunson drew a walk that loaded the bases for Edwards, who then singled in the go-ahead run.
When Kutztown managed to tie the score in the bottom of the seventh, the Bronchos needed only to wait for Brunson to get back in the batters’ box again and make something happen. After Dziadual singled with one out, Brunson followed that with an infield single to put runners on first and second.
And then Edwards came through with a two-run triple that put the Bronchos up for good.
Brunson said how things ended this season was more or less the opposite of 2012. As a freshman right fielder. Brunson said she started the season very hot at the plate. But as the season went on, the numbers went down. She considered her offensive play during the 2012 national tournament, which Central Oklahoma got eliminated in the final game of its side of the bracket, as below average.
She said she had some slumps during the season, but mostly at the beginning of the year.
“This season, I kind of started out not very good,” Brunson said. “But I continually progressed and got better, and got my slump out of the way early in the year.
“It was definitely better how I did it this year. I couldn’t have asked for a better tournament.”