Notre Dame softball teammates to become Ohio Valley Conference foes

Thursday, November 10, 2011
Notre Dame's Summer Burger forces out Central's Tat Reagan at second base during a game this season. (Kristin Eberts)

Notre Dame seniors Summer Burger and Brianne Sanders vow to keep performing their special handshake.

"It's going to be really weird," Burger said. "Right now Brianne is my best friend, and it's going to be really weird being not so much enemies but rivals. Whenever we play each other, we're going to plan on doing it. It's just going to be so much different, but it's definitely going to be OK."

Burger signed her letter of intent to play softball at Southeast Missouri State during a ceremony at Notre Dame on Wednesday. Sanders plans to make her decision final today when she signs her letter of intent to continue her softball career at Murray State. Both universities compete in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Burger was a mainstay at the bottom of the Bulldogs order during her first three years of high school. She batted left-handed and used her speed to reach base on bunts and slap hits. But the natural right-hander switched sides of the plate for her senior campaign.

"As she developed as a high school player, she developed into a really good right-handed hitter," Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett said. "We talked about it when the season ended last fall that she wanted to play around with it this summer, and she felt like that was her best option to play at the next level. By all means we switched her around. She had a phenomenal summer right-handed, so it was a pretty easy decision."

Notre Dame's Brianne Sanders makes a catch as teammate Summer Burger looks on during the Class 3 District 1 title game last month in Potosi, Mo. (Kristin Eberts)

Burger was the team's lone all-state selection this season. She batted .471 and set school records for runs scored (51) and doubles (22).

"Whenever I switched, I knew I should have stayed right-handed the whole time because right-handed I felt so much more comfortable and I can see the ball better and I have a lot more power," Burger said.

Burger played shortstop for the Bulldogs, and she said the Southeast coaching staff plans to keep her in the middle of the infield.

"Summer is another strong addition to our middle infield," Southeast coach Lana Richmond said in a release. "She is a gutsy player who will find a way to make plays and she knows how to win."

Burger said she considered other schools but quickly decided on Southeast.

"I loved that SEMO is in Cape because it is so close to my hometown," she said. "I'm a homebody, so being close to my family is a big thing and they can come to all my games. Since I live so close to Cape, I know where everything is. It's a perfect town for me."

Location also played a role in Sanders' decision to choose Murray State.

"I really wanted to play close to home, especially so my family could watch," she said. "It's not that bad a drive. It's about two hours, at most, so my family can still come and watch me play and all that, so I'm really happy about that."

Sanders was the Bulldogs' starting left fielder and leadoff batter. She used her speed to get on base and create havoc for the opposing defense.

"Coaching over at third base, I got to see firsthand what that fielder feels like when they pick that ball up and they see her almost to first base," Graviett said. "Just what that speed does is it puts a lot of pressure on your throw. One of the reasons she's on base so much, whether she beats out a throw or she causes a lot of errors, it's forced errors. How you have to play her defensively, you create a lot of holes."

Sanders said she didn't spend much time looking at other schools after receiving an offer to join the Racers.

"I visited and I loved the atmosphere of the whole Murray State campus and all that," she said. "All the girls and coaches were really nice, and I loved it immediately."

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