Caitlyn Brooks, freshman class making big waves for Irish
Marek Mazurek | Tuesday, April 12, 2016
As the rain forced a delay in Sunday afternoon’s game at Melissa Cook Stadium, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh players alike evacuated the dugouts and congregated near home plate.
The players exchanged snacks and before long, a dance competition began as Rihanna’s “Work” blared from the loudspeakers.
After the pow wow broke up, the Irish players drifted back towards the home dugout, but the dancing continued and right in the middle of it was freshman pitcher Caitlyn Brooks.
“We just had fun out there,” Brooks said. “We were playing hangman and dancing and just having fun and keeping the energy up and that’s how we got through the rest of the game — just by a lot of energy.”
Dance moves aside, Brooks has already made her mark on the team. She currently has the third most RBIs on the team with 34 and leads the Irish with and 15 walks and eight home runs, including a two-run blast in the bottom of the first inning of Sunday’s contest against the Panthers.
Brooks also sports the fifth highest batting average on the team — .358 — in her 31 starts this season and said the key to her success has been her aggressive approach at the plate.
“I think just staying aggressive positive and keeping my mind positive the entire time,” Brooks said. “[I’m] just looking for good pitches.”
Brooks’ success for the Irish this season should come as no surprise however. The Burbank, California native was a National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) third-team all-american in her senior year at Burbank High School and made the NFCA all-West regional team both her junior and senior seasons.
During her time at Burbank High School, Brooks batted .450 or better her sophomore through senior seasons, including 12 home runs during her sophomore campaign. When weighing her decision on where to attend college, Brooks said she was looking for a school with strong tradition and support network.
“[I] definitely [liked] the coaching staff,” Brooks said. “Just the tradition of the school and the great alumni association we have and the academic excellence our school has, it’s a very prestigious school. To be a part of that with a great softball team is the number one thing I wanted.”
Hitting is not Brooks’ only strength. The freshman was also an accomplished pitcher in high school and looks to bring that aspect of her game to Notre Dame.
Brooks surpassed both 80 wins and 1,000 strikeouts in her four years at Burbank High School, along with a 0.66 ERA her senior year. At Notre Dame, Brooks has appeared in eight games and has a 4.38 ERA in her 16 innings of work.
At Notre Dame, Brooks joins a talented freshman class that has been the driving force for the 20th-ranked Irish. Second baseman Ali Wester, third baseman Melissa Rochford and catcher Maddie McCracken have all started at least 23 games for the Irish this year, and Brooks said she thinks the freshman class is doing a good job so far.
“I think the entire freshman class has been doing great and representing,” Brooks said. “I think we’ll just keep it up and keep going.”
The key to that success? Well, it comes back to dancing.
“We get along really well,” Brooks said. “We have a lot of fun together and if you can do that, you’re golden.”