*Note- Due to the holiday last week, there will be 2 athletes of the week today.
PRINCETON – In 2016, Princeton High School’s softball program finally reached the top of the proverbial mountain.
For Beth Braswell, the experience of winning a state championship was much more about the climb than the view from the top.
Braswell watched intently last season as upperclassmen Kelsey Peedin, Hailey Wood and Taylor Carroll led by example and savored every moment of their final season in a Bulldogs’ uniform.
“All three of the seniors last year, Kelsey, Hailey and Taylor they were all great players,” Braswell said. “Their guidance meant a lot to all of us.”
Now a senior and team captain herself, Braswell is intent on leaving behind the same legacy that reminds younger players that it’s the journey, not the destination, that ultimately determines the character of a program.
Braswell is this week’s Mt. Olive Pickles High School Athlete of the Week.
The Mt. Olive Pickles High School Athlete of the Week is a partnership between Curtis Media Group, Mt. Olive Pickles and Worrell Contracting to recognize local high school athletes who excel athletically, academically and through service to their community.
Each Friday morning through May 12, a local high school athlete will be recognized on the WGBR morning show as well as in a feature story on goldsborodailynews.com. The recognized athletes are chosen by the athletic department and administration from their respective high schools.
Fueled by memories of last season’s run to a state title, Braswell aims to lead her younger teammates by example in hopes of reaching the softball promised land once more.
“I think about (winning a state championship) a lot,” Braswell said. “Especially when we’re here at practice. I want to get back there. The biggest thing I took away was the feeling of winning and it makes you want to win more. We have a lot of young players this year so they don’t know what it feels like to win a state championship and what it takes to get there. All the hard work we put in at practice is probably what I want them to remember most.”
Braswell’s presence in the Princeton lineup is felt both offensively and defensively. A dedication to improving her game in the off-season has led to an increase in both velocity and movement on her pitches. Braswell has recorded 83 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings pitched with an 8-3 record and a 1.93 earned run average. She also has a .475 batting average and a team-high four home runs.
“Beth has picked up two to three miles an hour on her pitches,” said Terry Braswell, the Bulldogs head coach (no relation to Beth). “She’s really improved the spin on her pitches and most of that comes from her working on her own.”
Aside from softball, Beth Braswell is a member of the Bulldogs’ volleyball team. She participates in both the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America and Future Teachers of America organizations at the school, as well. Braswell maintains a 4.1 grade-point average.
“Beth drives the other players to be better on the field and off the field,” Terry Braswell said. “We try to strive to do both but as far as her work ethic it’s rubbing off and we can see that.”
Beth plans to attend North Carolina Wesleyan College in the fall to play softball and study to become a teacher.
“Their coaches were extremely nice,” Beth Braswell said. “They have a great teaching program and I want to be a teacher really bad and that’s probably the main thing that took me there. I’m excited to experience a different side of things because there’s a lot more players on the team so I’m really going to have to work hard to earn a spot.”