North Alabama standout turns focus from softball to coaching

Rey Castillo By Rey Castillo

Dec. 27, 2016 at 11:06 p.m.

University of North Alabama's Brooklynn Clark swings at a pitch during a game last season.

University of North Alabama's Brooklynn Clark swings at a pitch during a game last season.   Joseph Romans for The Victoria Advocate

Brooklynn Clark has always loved softball.

But the 23-year-old from Seadrift had other plans when it came to playing sports at the collegiate level.

"My original dream was to play basketball in college," Clark said. "Entering my junior and senior years of high school, I realized I liked softball more because it's more of a team sport. You have nine players with you instead of five."

Despite her uncertainty, Clark opted to play softball after transferring from Calhoun to Jewel M. Sumner High School in Kentwood, Louisiana after her freshman year.

Clark played shortstop and pitcher for three years before receiving a scholarship to play for LSU-Eunice Junior College. She made the most of it after helping the Bengals win two national championships.

Then her career took off after earning a spot on the University of North Alabama's team.

Clark was named the 2016 NCAA Division II Conference Commissioners Association Ron Lenz Player of the Year after helping the Lions win their first-ever national championship.

"Being from a small town doesn't mean you can't pursue your dreams," said Clark, a first baseman. "It made me work harder. I don't care about the awards, what I'll remember the most about playing was being with my teammates. I'll miss being with them during the bus rides. I'll remember the national titles. They were a big deal. But nothing compares to the friends that I made."

In her final season with the team, Clark set a Gulf South Conference record with 107 hits. She also led the nation with a .498 batting average and 84 RBIs. Her batting average and 19 home runs were new single-season highs for the Lions' program.

Clark was also a first-team All-America selection.

Clark's eligibility has ended, but that hasn't stopped her from pursuing her dream of becoming a college softball coach.

"I was blessed to have good coaches," Clark added. "They pushed me to be the person I am today. They all played a big part, and they pushed me to pursue my dreams."

As a sports management major, Clark hopes to make that dream a reality.

"Right now, I'm finishing up my degree," she said. "My softball coach lets me stay on and help the team, and it helps my resume. One day I'll be a college coach somewhere to coach college softball. I have a little sister, and I just want her to know that even if you're from a small town, you can be something if you continue to keep pushing."

The transition from a junior college to a Division II school was a challenge for Clark. But it didn't take long for her to adapt.

"The competiveness in high school was at a whole 'nother level than college," Clark said. "Division II really made a huge difference as well. It was a new atmosphere that I had to get used to."



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