Sunday is Softball Senior Day for Brown, Dodd, Warren
April 26, 2013
CHICAGO – When asked about her favorite memory playing softball at DePaul, Bree Brown shrugged off the no-hitter she pitched against Rutgers or being named BIG EAST Rookie of the Year.
Instead, the introspective senior from Spring, Texas spoke in eloquent detail about sitting back and in her mind’s eye taking in a panoramic view of her teammates interacting before home games.
“Some of us had certain pre-game rituals,” Brown said as she will be honored on Sunday along with classmates Samantha Dodd and Ali Warren on Senior Day when the Blue Demons take on Notre Dame at Cacciatore Stadium.
“Others would just hang out and chill. Sometimes we would dance to get our energy up. There would be teammates playing Hacky Sack. Some of us would watch the opposing pitcher warm up. Others would sit and talk quietly.
“It was like the calm before the storm. I would just sit back and take it all in. And pretty soon, that will be gone from my life.”
Just two days ago, Brown sustained an injury at St. John’s that put a premature close to her career. It was a repeat of the same injury that had forced her to miss half the season.
“I wanted to make it back from my original injury,” Brown said. “Whatever happened before didn’t matter. This was my senior season. This is it. Either work your way back and enjoy your last year or keep giving in to the injury and your career is over.
“I loved playing second base---it was so much fun. When I re-injured myself at St. John’s, I knew right away my career was done. It was time to figure out what’s my next step.”
Brown’s adversity had a profound impact on Dodd.
“It hit me that my career was coming to an end when Bree’s ended on Wednesday,” Dodd said. “I don’t have a lot of time left. You think about all the things you’ve learned these last four years. You’ve seen yourself grow up in softball and grow up in life.
“As a freshman, I was a little fireball and mad all the time. I have a lot of passion for the game and didn’t know how to handle my emotions very well.
“The transition came when I became an upperclassman. The underclassmen are watching how you react, and now I had to set an example for the younger players. I became a little more selfless.”
As a senior, Warren has a different perspective of her passionate coach, Eugene “Eug” Lenti.
“As you mature, you begin to realize there’s an underlying message to everything Eug does,” Warren said. “You start to realize the deeper meaning.
“If you want to be great at something, you have to totally buy into it---and I mean you have to eat it, breathe it, sleep it. And I learned that you can’t always do things your way.
“As I got older, I began to see Eug through a different lens. I don’t see him as the bad guy anymore. When he strenuously points something out now, it has a different effect. I know it’s because he is trying to teach me a lesson.”
The seniors will take with them some special moments. Dodd remembers sweeping a doubleheader from No. 23 Notre Dame her freshman season.
“Nobody thought we had a chance of beating them,” Dodd said. “That was the day Shea Warren hit a grand slam.”
Warren will move on with two episodes imbedded in her mind.
“My best memory was beating Indiana and No. 4 Missouri on the same day at NCAA Regionals,” Warren said about the postseason success two years ago. “That was one of the best days of my life.
“I’ll never forget my freshman year when we beat Washington at the Judi Garman Classic when they were ranked No. 1 in the nation. I grew up in Spokane (Wash.), admiring that program, and I told everyone back home how we beat them 5-3.”
Brown recalled how much fun the players had at their team dinners, whether home or away.
Dodd laughed and said: “If eating was a part of the game, we’d win the Women’s College World Series.”
As Warren is honored on Sunday, she said there will be a feeling of accomplishment. Dodd said she will feel blessed to have been a part of the DePaul softball program.
“There will be so many things going through my mind,” Brown said about the Senior Day ceremony. “Why me? Why did this injury have to happen to me? Try to remember everyone I need to thank in my Senior Day speech. My dad has come to almost every game in my college career. What will it be like for him not coming to see me play every weekend?
“This has taught me who I am. There were so many things I wasn’t prepared for when I got to DePaul. This whole experience molds you into who you are and makes you a better person.”