Featured Photo: courtesy of Sports Information at suseagulls.com
In the world of college sports, changes occur with athletes such as seniors graduating and even incoming players from other schools preparing to play at the college level.
One particular athlete has set the bar high for herself playing two sports in college, both of which she was new to the team from the start of the season. Things are a little different this season as before in the spring she would grab her glove and practice her pitches for softball, but this season junior Annah Brittingham of Salisbury University has picked up a field hockey stick and is aiming for the cages.
As a pitcher for softball and a midfielder/back for field hockey, she is no stranger to the competitive edge that surrounds her and enjoys the world of sports. Brittingham said she has done it all.
“I’m a competitor,” she said. “I just love being out there whether it’s softball or field hockey. I’ve played soccer and I don’t care what it is really, I’m just having fun.”
Brittingham gained her experience of softball beginning with tee-ball at a young age and being the only one that wanted to pitch. She even did travel ball along with going to big recruiting camps and attending pitching camps that she knew colleges would sit and watch.
“I just love striking people out,” Brittingham said. “I started pitching lessons and I kept with it and it has always been like my one true love.”
Head coach Margie Knight of SU women’s softball said it didn’t take long for her to transition in with the team in spring 2015. She said the players were very welcoming making her part of the team.
“The players really seem to like her and she’s all in,” Knight said. “It didn’t take long for our players to accept her and welcome her and her [Brittingham] to reciprocate that. She’s a local young lady and she brings a lot of fans with her to the games, so that’s always good.”
For softball, Brittingham has pitched 83 innings with 71 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.94 even being named Capital Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week in March. Hitting is also a strong point of hers as she stepped up to plate with five homeruns and 36 RBIs.
As the games have begun for field hockey, the roster introductions before each game have of course changed as the announcer calls out her same number for softball, 16, and she steps forward. Being from Pocomoke, Brittingham said the hugest impact in her life for field hockey was the late Susan Pusey.
“She [Pusey] put a stick in my hand as soon as she could basically, so I always did the camps with her in Pocomoke and then I went to Pocomoke High School and I played field hockey there,” she said. “I honestly wasn’t sure whether I was going to play field hockey or softball in college or do both until basically my junior year.”
A major aspect of playing two sports is adjusting between the two, but Brittingham said it wasn’t hard. Not playing field hockey since her senior year of high school and now playing in her senior year of college forced her to work hard over the summer with cardio and stick work.
The head coach of the field hockey program, Dawn Chamberlin, said Brittingham wasn’t in the mindset to play field hockey when transitioning into Salisbury, so she focused on softball. Chamberlin noticed after being at SU a year she was ready to try them both.
“We’re fortunate to have her out here,” Chamberlin said. She was a great high school player. We’re just happy that she’s able to come out here and contribute to us. She started off rusty, but was able to come back in her game and do a super job for us on the field.”
One minor setback of playing field hockey this season is not being able to attend all the softball practices. Brittingham makes the best of it, keeping focused and staying in sync.
“In the softball practices it was hard meeting the new freshman, but I try to be part of everything like I was doing all the pitching drills,” she said. “Anytime time that I get, free time, I am with the softball girls because obviously I’m in the field hockey stuff.”
For field hockey, since she hasn’t been playing for so long, she said the little successes of the game are what she likes about it. From passes to fast breaks and scoring goals, Brittingham finds joy in it all.
Short term memory plays a major strength for Brittingham with both sports. It allows her to forget the negatives and think positive moving forward for the next play or inning.
Both sports do require the aspect of hitting. Brittingham mentions it’s all the head movement when comparing the two and techniques are used from one sport to the other.
“I’m having trouble hitting the ball in the air because I think it’s a softball thing. I’ve been keeping my head straight and in field hockey I keep my head down, so basically I’m trying to think of like softball in way stepping to the ball and keeping a straight plane.”
When not playing either sport, Brittingham still manages to take values from those sports and use it in her everyday life especially in her academics. Competing is what she lives for telling herself she has to get the best grade on this or that and telling herself she must work out on this day or that day.
As an exercise science major, she is part of the Allied Health program with hopes of going to pharmacy school after graduation. Coaching is also a promising future occupation for her as well as over the summer she helped out a local travel field hockey team and even helped girls with pitching lessons.
“I can’t see myself not being a part of sports in my later years,” she said. “I think I’ll end up being at least a softball coach, maybe both who knows. But I’ll definitely be in sports.”
Nothing can possibly stop Annah Brittingham as she lives life taking each sport one game at a time living off her competitive edge and doing what she loves: playing sports.