MINFORD — Anytime Brittani Wolfenbarker steps to the plate, put your money on something good happening.
Minford’s junior shortstop has been a walking highlight film this season … and if you’ve kept up with her throughout her career, that comes as no surprise.
There’s a madness behind Wolfenbarker’s magic at the plate.
“My first at-bat of a game, I’m usually always taking the first strike, sometimes by fake bunting, to really see the girl’s pitching and how the defense is moving,” Wolfenbarker said. “I then will look at the corners and where the defense is playing to see if my best chance to get on base is bunting, slapping, or hitting. With less than two strikes, I’m only looking for a good pitch that I know will benefit me with the best chance of getting on base.”
It’s a veteran mindset that’s proven viable for Wolfenbarker in the time she’s spent at Minford. She most certainly oozes talent but a part of her game that maybe goes unnoticed is the way she sees, and processes, every situation.
Her mind, and bat, is always moving.
“I think when I’m at the plate, I can focus really well. I’ve always been pretty good at picking the pitch I want to hit and letting the junk balls go by,” Wolfenbarker said. “I’m usually not one to chase the crazy pitches. I think that because I can do so many things at the plate, like hit for power, slap, or drag bunt, I have many options where I can get on base. When my confidence is up, I know I can get a good base hit. Sometimes when I may be in a slump, I’ll switch to slapping and dragging in order to get back into it.”
And, it’s not just at the plate where she excels. She’s one of the best defensive players in the conference, if not the district, and has nailed down the ability to be a utility player for her team.
Wolfenbarker has played several positions for coach Art Doll’s Falcons, including a brief stint in the pitcher’s circle. That night, Minford played six-time defending SOC II champion Wheelersburg and, when Doll called upon Wolfenbarker to pitch, it was a surprise.
The result was, eventually a 2-1 loss. But it was one where Wolfenbarker fired three innings of two-hit softball without allowing a run and possibly planted a seed for the future.
“That was definitely the most nervous I’ve ever been before a game but I thought I did pretty well with what little skills I have as a pitcher,” Wolfenbarker said, humbly. “Since the nerves of pitching is pretty much out of the way, I would like to give it another try and definitely work more at it to better, especially for next season.”
With Wolfenbarker leading the way, the Falcons currently sit at 14-8 overall with a 9-4 mark in the SOC II. Alongside Hannah Tolle, Madi Sifford, Emily Shoemaker and a platoon of other helping hands, Wolfenbarker says this year’s team has the potential to make a lot of noise.
“Our team this year is definitely one of the closest ones I’ve been a part of,” she said. “We all have a great bond with one another and that’s definitely the key in any team sport. Coach Doll and our coaching staff has done very well with us this year and continue to push us each and every day. We all play with heart each and every game and I’ve never been more proud of how well we’ve competed this year.”
After dates with West and Miami Trace end their regular season slate, Minford is matched up with North Adams in a Division III sectional semifinal on May 7. That’s what Wolfenbarker hopes to be the start of a lengthy tournament run.
“This team is very capable of making it however far in the tournament that we all put our minds to,” she said. “We are definitely a district and maybe even a regional team. When we all want the same thing and play together at the best of our ability, I know there’s no doubt we can go far.”
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