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Prep softball: Ross helps Catholic to rebound season

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The past few seasons have been a rollercoaster ride for the Charleston Catholic softball team.

The Irish won 16 games in 2011 and made it all the way to the regional semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Buffalo. Last season, though, after losing a pair of two-time All-State selections in Marty Wilcox and Ally Hoyer to graduation, Catholic struggled mightily, winning just three games.

With plenty of ups and downs along the way, the one constant for the Irish has been junior Brianna Ross. Through it all, Ross has started every game for Catholic both seasons and put up solid numbers for the Irish each year.

This season, Catholic has improved drastically with an 11-8 record and Ross has been one of the main reasons why. She leads the Kanawha Valley with a .654 batting average, and has driven in 38 runs to go along with six doubles, three triples and a home run.

"The emotions have been up and down but I try and keep my calm and bring my best game to the field and to the team," Ross said. "I try to not let my bad emotions get out of me because I feel the whole team will be brought down by me."

Ross is proud of her accomplishments so far this season in leading the area in hitting, as is Catholic Coach Kevin Corbett.

"It feels really great," Ross said. "I'm just playing how I know how to play. I'm just putting it all out on the field."

"It's amazing," Corbett said. "Every time she comes up, we expect good things to happen, and usually it does. She's been great. You never have to worry about what is going to happen with her."

Ross has been putting up big numbers every since entering the Catholic program in 2011. She started every game at third base as a freshman and was an honorable mention All-State selection after hitting .371. Last season, Ross moved to shortstop and hit .676, but didn't have enough at-bats to qualify with so many mercy rule defeats Catholic suffered.

While Ross has been pleased with her individual performances throughout her Irish career, she's more focused on getting back the winning feeling.

"It is really good getting back to the winning," Ross said. "Last year was a down season. So it's really nice to get those wins on the board. It feels a lot better.

"Last season was really rough. We lost a lot of starters. We had to pretty much rebuild the team. I tried to be a leader and keep the team's heads up and bring us together. We tried our best."

Catholic already has eight more wins this season than it did a year ago, and while Ross knows the Irish have a long way to go, she hopes to get the program back to the level it was two years ago.

"My freshman year was probably my favorite so far," Ross said. "I just want to get back to the level of where we were. I know how it meant to me and how it would mean to everyone else."

Corbett, in his first season with the Irish, also understands wins is what it's going to take to get the program back on track.

"The record was three and whatever last year and we are already at 11," Corbett said. "We have improved on that and everyone on our staff is tickled to death with the progress they have made.

"We want to get the numbers back up, and to do that, they want to see wins on the board. Now we have had a decent season with some wins, maybe we can get more kids out. Catholic has a winning tradition and we want it to be a program to build for years to come."


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