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Ava Brown aims to continue softball dominance with Gators
Ava Brown is one of six players in the Class of 2023 committed to Florida Gators softball. (Credit: Florida Athletics)

Ava Brown aims to continue softball dominance with Gators

MONTGOMERY, Texas (BVM) — Ava Brown had one of the most dominant seasons a high school pitcher could have in 2022, leading the Lake Creek Lions to an undefeated season and being named Gatorade Texas Softball Player of the Year. Now she’s in the midst of another impressive season and is set on winning back-to-back titles.

Considered the No. 2 player in the Class of 2023 by MaxPreps, Brown has shown to be a star in the circle and the batter’s box. However, that wasn’t always the case.

“I was introduced to the sport relatively young,” Brown said. “My grandpa and my dad both played baseball and slow-pitch softball, and from there, I progressively continued to practice, and I was always surrounded by it [softball]. People in my family have all played sports, so I knew I was going to be an athlete of some sort, but I didn’t always know softball was going to be my thing.”

Brown has worked hard to get where she is today, and playing different sports like volleyball and basketball helped her find the competitive edge she has and helped her realize that softball was her calling. 

“I continued to play, continued to grow, and noticed a change in my abilities mentally and physically,” Brown said. “I guess you could say I owe my dad and grandpa for introducing softball to me, but my love for it came from within.”

While her family played an integral part in her softball career, playing for the Hotshots-Nelson travel ball program introduced her to another competitive side of the game and helped her with the recruiting process.

“I was talking to my travel ball coach [Nathan Nelson], and he made the process a little easier for me,” Brown said. “He told me, ‘Give yourself three to five schools and don’t do any more than that because the more you do, the harder the conversations are going to be.’”

That message helped Brown narrow her choices, and she eventually decided to visit three schools: Texas, Florida and Alabama. 

“I never had a dream school, but I had a clear mind on where my interest was,” Brown said. “I’m a feel person, I want to feel comfortable, and I want to feel welcomed. At the end of the day, you’re living there for four years, and you want to make sure it’s somewhere you belong.”

After her visits, Brown decided that the place for her was the  University of Florida.  

“I loved how the girls interacted with each other. I loved how I interacted with the coaches and how they interacted with me,” Brown said. “It was the first school that made me feel welcomed. To me, that spoke very highly of the program, and now after signing, I know I made the right decision for myself.”

Brown’s softball future in Gainesville is bright, but she is focused on finishing her senior season, where her competitive mindset could help her become one of the best players to ever play in Texas.

“The mentality I have when facing a hitter is that I’m going to throw a pitch you can’t hit, and if you beat me, you didn’t beat me, I beat myself. I gave you something you could hit,” Brown said. “To me, if you hit me once, you’re not going to hit me again, especially in high school, where I know my job is to be dominant.”

In 2022, Brown led the No. 1 nationally ranked Lions to a Class 5A state title and a 41-0 record. The right-handed pitcher also accumulated a 30-0 record, had an ERA of 0.52 and struck out 335 batters in 183⅓ innings in her first year as the go-to player.

“Last year was really my first year as Lake Creek’s ace,” Brown said. “I was behind Emily Kennedy, who everybody loved or hated, my sophomore year. When you’re a good athlete, everybody loves you, or they hate you, and last year was my first year to be ‘the pitcher.’”

Aside from dominating the circle, Brown was also a feared batter with a .405 batting average, 10 home runs, 12 doubles, 43 RBIs, and a .785 slugging percentage. Finding success as a batter and pitcher can be difficult, but creating two games in her head is something Brown credits to her success on the field. 

“Being someone who pitches and hits, it’s really hard to separate the two and take your failures and successes from each other,” Brown said. “I try and make every game a game of two, so I’m a pitcher when I’m on the field and a hitter when I’m in the dugout. It took me a long time to figure out the two, but now that I have it, it makes every game easier.”

Viewing the game that way has brought Brown much success, but she’s also looked up to former collegiate softball players like back-to-back Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year Rachel Garcia for help. 

“Someone I try and play like is Rachel Garcia from UCLA,” Brown said. “She’s also a pitcher and a hitter and wears No. 00. I felt like it was meant to be. We throw a lot alike, and some people say we even look alike, so maybe that’s why I was drawn to her.”

With inspiration from former NCAA players, Brown is motivated by playing alongside her longtime friend and LSU softball commit, Maddie McKee

“We’ve been in each other’s lives since we were 10,” Brown said. “We’ve played together, gone through school together, and even went on visits together. Honestly, we don’t know softball without each other and we’ve grown as people and been able to experience so many different parts of life together, and she’s one of my best friends in the entire world, and I love her and her family so much.”

Both could face each other in the SEC, but playing with the Hotshots, they have experienced it before, making the potential matchup would be more of a reunion. 

“I look forward to not just competing against her but being able to see her,” Brown said. “It’ll be awesome seeing each other on the opposite side of the field, and I feel like we’ll be living our dreams. Obviously, playing against each other will be a competition, but on the outside, we’ll laugh about it because, at the end, it’s a game.”

Regardless of what happens next, Brown is sure to have an excellent career with the Gators and will improve her skill set, but she also knows that softball won’t always be there, and she is taking each day to cherish every moment she has on the field.

“The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve been able to tell myself that softball is a privilege,” Brown said. “It’s also my escape from my outside world, and there are a lot of things going on in my life, but softball has never been a thing that’s left. It’s always been something I could go to even though it can push me to an edge sometimes and make me feel really good or bad about myself; it’s always been there. … It’s been a huge part of my life.”