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Houston’s Aquana Brownlee batted .542 as her Lady Hilltoppers reached the Class 3A semifinals, a year after winning a state championship. She’s a Mississippi State signee.

HOUSTON There was a time when Aquana Brownlee stepping to the plate would be greeted with dismay – by her teammates’ parents.

“I remember the parents used to huff when I got up to bat because they knew I would be out,” Brownlee said. “It just made me feel bad, so I was like, I want to show them I can be good.”

She’s shown quite a few people just how good she is at softball. Brownlee recently capped a stellar career at Houston, and fans of opposing teams are more than glad to see her move on to Mississippi State.

For the second-straight year, she is the Daily Journal Player of the Year. Brownlee batted .542 with 12 doubles, eight triples and eight home runs.

Houston reached the semifinals of the Class 3A playoffs, losing to eventual champion South Pontotoc. While the Lady Hilltoppers were not able to repeat as state champs, Brownlee believes she and her teammates made their mark.

“I felt like we proved everybody wrong. I did what I planned on doing,” she said. “I wanted to be one of the best softball players to come through Houston, and I feel like I left that mark – because people tell me.”

Getting serious

Brownlee first started playing softball at age 6, and she admits she wasn’t very good. After hearing parents grumble, she started spending countless hours in her backyard, hitting balls by herself.

Once her father, A.Q., realized how serious his daughter was about softball, he stepped in and helped.

“The other coaches started talking about she could be better than she was, so we just started practicing every day,” A.Q. said. “We had some people that started laughing at her because she wasn’t that good, and then we sure enough started going harder and harder.”

Aquana eventually started playing for club teams out of Southaven during the summer. All the work paid off when she joined Houston’s varsity squad.

Over the last three seasons alone, she’s batted .561 with 19 home runs, 75 RBIs and 138 runs scored. Colleges started paying attention to Brownlee early on, and she signed with MSU in November.

“My freshman year, once I found out Division I schools were looking at me, I realized, OK, I might be good,” she said. “Let’s keep trying to get better.”

brad.locke@journalinc.com Twitter: @bradlocke

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