Even though it was cut short, Aquana Brownlee’s freshman season was chock full of learning experiences.
The Houston product saw plenty of action for Mississippi State’s softball team, which was rolling along at 25-3 before the COVID-19 pandemic ended the season. Brownlee, a second baseman, played in 15 games with seven starts.
“I started the very first game, and that had my confidence way up,” said Brownlee, a two-time Daily Journal Player of the Year at Houston. “And then when she swapped us, that’s when it hit. I was like, this ain’t high school. I’ve got to compete for a position.”
Coach Samantha Ricketts used both Brownlee and senior Lindsey Williams at second base. Playing on that side of the infield was an adjustment for Brownlee, who played third base most of her high school career.
She committed three errors in 29 chances.
“I felt like I was going to get better as time went on. They thought I was good enough or they wouldn’t have let me play,” Brownlee said.
And that’s something of which the older Bulldogs had to remind her – that she belongs in the SEC.
“They were always like, ‘Stop getting in your head. If you weren’t good, you wouldn’t be here,’” Brownlee said.
A career .487 hitter at Houston, Brownlee was batting .200 for MSU – four hits in 20 at-bats. She had five RBIs and one stolen base.
When it comes to hitting, she said the biggest difference between high school and college is mental.
“I feel like (my average) would have gone up eventually, because I had started making adjustments and stopped worrying so much,” she said. “They do a lot of mental stuff at the plate. I had to learn how to know what to look for, know what I wanted to hit, what was best for every situation.”
MSU was about to open SEC play against Kentucky when the season was stopped. It was shaping up to be a historic season for the Bulldogs, who set several team records.
Fortunately, most of the squad will be back next year, and Brownlee is eager to get back on the field. She wants to take the lessons she learned as a freshman and use them to get better.
“We’re getting the same team back, plus three good freshmen coming in,” she said, “so I feel like we’re going to be off to a good run next year.”