It seems fitting Brittany Gray plays first base for the Greenwood Community High School softball team when not asked to pitch.
Even when the Woodmen are batting, the junior almost always finds her way there.
Gray’s .641 on-base percentage this past season played a significant role in a springtime during which Greenwood won its first 19 games and rocketed all the way to the No. 1 ranking in Class 4A for the first time in the program’s history.
The Woodmen eventually settled in with a 22-3 record, led by Gray, the Daily Journal’s Player of the Year for a second consecutive season.
“The season went well. It was fun to get to know all the girls again, and we just kind of went out there, played ball and played hard,” said Gray, who wound up hitting .500 with seven home runs, 24 RBIs and 21 walks. “Each game was another challenge. We didn’t care who it was, we were going to step on their toes.”
Batting third in the lineup, Gray’s reputation after swatting seven home runs as a ninth-grader and 14 more last season assured her only a select amount of quality pitches. Her 21 walks looms large, particularly considering the rest of the players on Greenwood’s roster combined
“I respected the fact that people respected me,” said Gray, who still managed to collect 26 hits and rank third on the team in runs with 20. “Sometimes it is difficult because I want to play. But (after being walked), I would just hand the bat to Kel (Kelly Pevely) and say, ‘Make them pay,’ and she usually did.
“I would rather win the game than worry about my statistics. It’s about doing whatever we have to do to win.”
That’s something the Woodmen have done a lot since Gray made her varsity debut in 2011. Greenwood’s overall record the past three seasons is 64-13 (.831), while its Mid-State Conference mark of 34-2 (.944) is even gaudier.
In that time, Gray has logged 337 innings of work as a pitcher with a record of 42-9. Her career earned-run average is a sparkling 0.64 thanks largely to a nearly 5-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio (379/81).
The junior was Greenwood’s undisputed ace on the hill her first two seasons but only had to pitch 72 innings this season due to the emergence of freshman Megan Overton. Gray finished the year with a 9-3 mark, 87 strikeouts and 21 walks. Her ERA was 0.78.
Tendinitis in her right shoulder at times limited what Gray could accomplish as a pitcher this season. However, a ceiling couldn’t be placed above her attitude and passion for winning.
“For Brittany it was difficult for her to be able to only throw so many innings. There were times I could see it on her face how hard it was for her to not be out there,” first-year Greenwood coach Stephanie Senac said.
“But she did a great job being a team player. Brittany wants everyone on the team to succeed. During games she is a very good vocal leader, and, obviously, she leads by example with both her hitting and her pitching.”
In November 2011, Gray gave an verbal commitment to play softball at the University of Georgia. She follows the Bulldogs’ progress closely knowing that one day she’ll be wearing red and black as opposed to the green, gold and white uniform of today.
She’s not ready to hand the latter in just yet. With her senior season still ahead of her, Gray is granted one more swing for the fences.
That is, if she gets any pitches to hit.
Name: Brittany Gray
Position: First base/pitcher
2013 statistics: .500 batting average, two doubles, seven home runs, 24 RBIs, 21 walks
Season highs: Hits, three (vs. Whiteland on May 20), home runs, two (vs. Franklin Central on May 1), RBIs, four (vs. Whiteland on May 11), walks, four (vs. New Palestine on