That means, instead of figuring out how to pitch to Falcons senior third baseman Brianna Simpson, Russo gets to write her into his lineup card. “Coaching against her, you have to prepare for speed,” Russo said. “I always knew that we had to strike her out. Not only is she very fast; she’s also very smart on the bases. She’s just a really good base runner. Coaching her, that’s a lot different – it’s a big advantage.”
Simpson has played softball for nearly 10 years, and her dedication to the sport has made her one of the better high school players in the area – and a leader on the Falcons, which are perennially one of the top teams in the area.
If people knew her for only one thing, said Simpson, she’d want it to be her dedication to the game. “I like hanging out with my friends and everything,” Simpson said. “But usually when I’m not at a game or actual practice, I am practicing softball on my own.”
In addition to her speed on the base paths, Simpson is also an elite defensive third baseman, a skill that helped land her the opportunity to play at Texas Southern University in Houston. “I love the campus and everything they have to offer – and the softball is good,” Simpson said. “I love the atmosphere in Texas. Everything is different; that’s why I chose it.”
Simpson believes that in the course of playing four years of softball at Freedom, she’s increasingly embraced the role of leader. As the experienced players from her early teams moved on, Simpson learned what it took to be not just a good player, but a team captain.
“I’ve learned how to always give it my all,” Simpson said. “When things are down, it’s really important to not hold your head down, because people are always watching. I’ve learned how to be a leader.”
Simpson is also her toughest critic. While the strength of her game is defense and speed, she admits she needs to improve her hitting and harness her potential power at the plate.
Though Simpson’s senior season will feature a familiar scenario – Freedom will again be considered one of the top teams in the area – now she’s one of only three seniors on the team, and her coach is happy her influence will be felt among the younger players.
“She’s a true leader and a great example,” Russo said. “Not just on the field, but off it, too. She’s going to college, and she’s helping the young group understand how to do that. I expect her to be a great role model.”