By DAVID GREEN
As the lead-off hitter for Morenci’s girls softball team, Brooke Barrett often set the tone for the batters to follow.
And she often did it with an extra-base hit.
Barrett is one of four Div. IV first-base players recognized with all-state honors by the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association.
The honor came as a surprise to her, but one she’ll cherish. Softball, after all, is her favorite sport.
“It’s the sport I was best at,” she said.
Barrett went through the summer ball routine, starting with T-ball, and joined the varsity team as a freshman. She got some playing time in the outfield, but the next season—with the graduation of Emilie Yatzek—she started at first base and stayed there for three years.
Morenci coach Kay Johnson saw a lot of improvement in Barrett’s defensive work and she appreciated her role as the infield leader who directed the Bulldogs’ defense.
Barrett also moved into the lead-off position in the batting order as a sophomore.
“She settled into that position pretty well,” Morenci coach Kay Johnson said.
Barrett often reached base and she had enough speed to move around to second or third.
“It’s nice to set the tone for the team and the get girls ready to play,” Barrett said.
She was on the low end of the statistics for striking out and often managed to get on base. A combination of power and speed helped move her beyond first base.
This season she finished with two home runs, five triples and six doubles. She scored 27 runs, drove in 14 runners and batted .370—second best on a team that played a challenging schedule.
As the first batter of the game, Barrett often smacked a hit against a good pitcher to serve notice that Morenci was ready to take the challenge, Johnson said.
Barrett was an all-league selection three years in a row before moving on in the honor team selection process this season.
“It’s a lot easier when you have a good team behind you,” Barrett said.
It’s also better when you’re having a lot of fun, and that’s exactly what this season was all about.
“We were always laughing,” she said. “We did a lot of crazy things. We were one big family.”
Looking back over her high school career, Barrett lists her sophomore year over-the-fence homer as a highlight.
The toughest pitcher? That would be Summerfield’s Jordan Ratliff—another all-state selection.
She quickly comes up with the funniest moment, as well. Mariah Bovee at second base moved back into the outfield to catch a fly ball and tripped over the umpire. He helped her up and asked if she was all right.
There are teams and players with better numbers, Coach Johnson said, but the all-state selection committee also considers the schedule that a candidate faced.
As a member of the tough Tri-County Conference, Barrett knows all about that.
Barrett epitomizes the characteristic of this year’s team, Johnson said. Nothing flashy, no one standing out as the star of the squad.
Instead, the Bulldogs were made from a great collection of role players—each one adding her unique strength to the team.
The squad’s three seniors, Salena Martinez, Rachael Rutkowski and Brooke Barrett, provided a core of leadership that every team needs to succeed.