Puzey already making her mark with Nevada
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Given her lineage, it’s not surprising that Brittany Puzey is having success with the Nevada softball team.
After all, her mother, Kim, played for Nevada before the school disbanded the program, and her dad, Jim, was a standout catcher for Gary Powers, and until a year ago, ranked in the top-10 in a couple of categories at Nevada. He played seven years in the St. Louis Cardinals’ farm system.
So you see, it’s in her blood, and it’s a big reason why she ended up at Nevada instead of UOP, Wisconsin or Penn State, all of which were recruiting her.
“A lot of it was family (why I stayed home); seeing my little brother play Little League baseball or football and watching my sister go through high school, and of course my parents,” Puzey said. “She (her mom) doesn’t talk about it much. She was fast. I think she pitched a little bit.
“Our whole family; aunts and uncles, that’s what we do. It is always sports. Everybody is extremely supportive of each other.”
Supportive, yet the Puzeys are an extremely competitive bunch, too. And don’t forget perfectionists.
“I’m a competitor,” Puzey said. “Even if I’m not playing well. I’ll still go out there and work my butt off. The biggest adjustment is working hard. You have to work hard because everybody wants your spot.”
That’s what Nevada coach Michelle Gardner likes about her standout freshman outfielder.
“She competes,” Gardner said. “I love that kid. I like that about her. She gets her competitiveness from him (her father). She really competes at the plate. I love watching her at the plate.
“She’s got a lot of RBIs. She’s had a lot of opportunities to do things, and she’s taken advantage of them.”
Puzey is hitting .273 with four homers and a team-leading 29 runs batted in, and she was voted to the all-tourney team in Nevada’s tournament last weekend. Gardner has so much faith in her talented freshman that Puzey has been hitting third in the lineup quite a bit of the time.
“You have to be a lot more focused, especially at the plate,” Puzey said. “These are Division I pitchers, and they know how to throw.”
Puzey went 7-for-17 last weekend with a homer and seven RBI. She also scored five runs. Before the tournament, she went through a 1-for-14 slump over six games.
“I wasn’t letting the ball get deep enough on me,” Puzey said. “I was out in front of it too much.”
Her numbers are huge when you consider she didn’t play much of her senior year at Douglas High when she broke her right thumb diving back into a base. She ended up having a second surgery before the season started.
“I went and played with my club team a couple of times, but it was frustrating because I couldn’t do much,” she said. “I was trying to hit and I couldn’t even wrap my hand around the bat. I stopped because I didn’t want to get into any bad habits.”
The injury also stopped Puzey from pitching, too, which was her forte at Douglas.
“Coaches had me starting to pitch, then I developed tendinitis and then I had another surgery,” Puzey said. “Everybody was going through individual workouts (in the fall), and I’m sitting there with a broken hand. It was frustrating.
“They’ve got me throwing again, but it’s getting late in the season, so who knows.”
Jordan McPherson is the Pack’s ace, but Puzey, when healthy throws as hard, if nor harder than the rest of the Pack pitchers.
“She was a very good high school pitcher,” Gardner said. “Sometimes high school pitchers can be No. 2 or No. 3 pitchers. We have to find another pitcher for next year.
“It depends on her. I didn’t look at her as a high school kid that would start 30 games (to date) for us, either.”
The mound is certainly one place where Puzey feels comfortable, and it’s one place where her competitive fires would be well-served.
If there’s been a downside to Puzey’s season, it’s been her play in the outfield. She played there when she didn’t pitch at Douglas. She’s made seven errors thus far, and Gardner said most of them have been on routine plays.
“I had no practice in the fall,” Puzey said. “Left field is different than center. In center, the ball comes straight at you. In left, balls seem to fade and dive.”
Gardner thinks the defense will come around, but she also knows that she needs Puzey’s bat in the lineup as often as possible.
Darrell Moody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (775) 881-1281
The Puzey File
Year in school: Freshman
Position: Left field