Nett gains - SE senior will close career with big numbers

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

CHRIS SMITH * photos@semissourian.com

Southeast Missouri State University senior second baseman Brooke Nett forced out a runner in a game earlier this season. Nett leads Southeast with 22 RBIs and a .414 on-base percentage.By Marty Mishow ~ Southeast Missourian

Despite a strong late-season surge, Southeast Missouri State University's softball team is virtually assured of its second consecutive losing record -- the only two below-.500 marks in 21 years under coach Lana Richmond.

But Brooke Nett, a four-year starter, is virtually assured of having a stellar senior season as she closes out her Southeast career in style. And Richmond figures that couldn't be more fitting.

"Brooke has been a really good four-year player for us and it's great to see her having this kind of senior season," Richmond said. "She has been very consistent."

Nett, one of four Southeast seniors, will play at home for the final time today when the Otahkians (14-24) face non-conference foe St. Louis University (18-15) in a 4 p.m. doubleheader at the Southeast Softball Complex.

"I don't think it's going to be very emotional for me. I think that happened Saturday," Nett said, referring to the Otahkians' official senior day festivities that featured a doubleheader sweep of Tennessee-Martin.

And Nett, a second baseman, even got to turn in one of the more memorable plays of her Southeast career during Saturday's 5-4 finale. With the bases loaded and one out for UT-Martin, Nett fielded a ground ball behind second base, stepped on the bag and threw to first to complete a game-ending double play.

"Actually, that was probably my most memorable play ever," she said. "The ball was hit up the middle, I got the ball, my shortstop was yelling for me to step on second. I didn't even look to first, I knew I had to throw it quick and the runner came barreling into me. My first baseman made a great play and we won the game."

Nett, a second-team all-Ohio Valley Conference selection the past two seasons, is hitting .315 this year to rank second on the team behind sophomore Kelly Birk (.319). She leads the squad in doubles with seven, runs batted in with 22 and on-base percentage at .414. Nett, the OVC's 10th-leading hitter, also has two home runs and two triples.

And Nett also leads the Otahkians in being hit by pitches with nine. So what else is new? She was hit 14 times as a sophomore to shatter the single-season school record and her career mark of being hit 34 times is 20 more than the second-place total.

"I've been hit by a lot of pitches my whole life. I guess the ball is just attracted to me," Nett said, laughing. "I stand close to the plate so I'm sure that has something to do with it."

Nett, whose 33 career doubles rank fourth all-time at Southeast, has also committed just two errors this season.

"She plays good defense and she hits the ball," Richmond said. "She'll give you a valuable performance every time out."

Nett, who hit .312 last year, .264 as a sophomore and .286 as a freshman, has also been a rare two-sport athlete at Southeast. She was a valuable member of the Otahkians' soccer team as a freshman and sophomore before giving up the sport due to a torn hamstring.

"My hamstring never got better until I quit soccer, and I also thought playing two sports might be affecting my grades," Nett said. "I think I had the most natural talent in soccer and I missed it a lot for a while, but I always wanted to play both sports in college so I'm really proud I could do it."

Nett, who also has had to overcome a torn rotator cuff that required surgery prior to last season, is just as proud of her academic accomplishments.

A perennial Southeast Scholar-Athlete, Nett has roughly a 3.8 grade-point average and will graduate in May with a degree in administrative systems management, which she hopes to turn into a sports-related job.

"That's the number one priority, school," she said.

Nett, a graduate of Buchanan High School in Troy, Mo., is pleased with the season she is having but not so thrilled that the Otahkians have struggled again, although they have won five of their last seven OVC games to move into fourth place and are hopeful of success in the upcoming conference tournament.

"That's up for grabs. We've already beaten the best team (regular-season champion Tennessee Tech) and I think we can win it," Nett said. "That's what we're shooting for."

But regardless of how the Otahkians finish, Nett knows one thing -- she's grateful for her Southeast experience.

"I've made great friends and it's been a wonderful time," she said.

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