Spanish Fork head coach Don Andrews remembered watching a game this season when one of the opposing batters made solid contact on a pitch, drilling it right back at Don senior hurler Briley Young.
“She caught the line drive right back at her and she just came up nonchalantly and said, ‘well, she hit that one,’” Andrews said. “It was funny. That’s just her.”
Whether she was snagging a hard-hit liner, striking out a batter or watching an opponent take advantage of a rare bad pitch, Young always kept the same demeanor.
“Things just don’t seem to affect her that much,” Andrews said. “I tell them that to be a good pitcher, mentally you have to be one of two things. You have to be ice — nothing bothers you — or you have to be a killer. Briley is ice. She can give up two home runs in a row and look at her and you wouldn’t know it. That’s the way she is.”
Young believes that is one of the biggest strengths of her game.
“My dad always said that my mental game is one of the strongest he’s seen,” Young said. “I learned that from him. I can get through several games and it is mostly mental.”
Her levelheadedness and talent made her incredibly successful as a pitcher and hitter for the Dons in this spring, qualities that earned her the title of 2019 Daily Herald All-Valley Softball Player of the Year.
“This is super-awesome for me,” Young said. “My brother won this award for baseball in 2011, so I’m following in his footsteps. He’s been one of my biggest role models. We both wore No. 9. Winning it means a lot to me and I’m proud to represent Spanish Fork like this.”
Andrews said the Spanish Fork senior deserved the honor because of how valuable she was to her team.
“She is being recognized for winning 22 games against a pretty good schedule — and she didn’t always have the best help,” Andrews said. “I like that. She pitches, hits and fields her position really well.”
Young said her brother played baseball growing up, so she pretty much grew up at the ballpark.
“I started pitching when I was like 6-years-old and I’ve loved it ever since then,” Young said. “My dad has been coaching me all these years and we’ve loved it. My brother and I used to argue about what was harder, baseball or softball. It would get pretty heated.”
Those days prepared Young to be part of the Spanish Fork program, something she said she enjoyed and went by really quickly even though she had to wait for her chance to be the starter.
“I always tell my pitchers that it doesn’t do any good to be the second-best pitcher in the state if No. 1 is on your team,” Andrews said. “In fastpitch, you can get by with one pitcher. We try to give our No. 2 pitcher time and we tried to do that with Briley. We really counted on her last year and came in and won when she did.”
Young said she was waiting for 2019 because she knew it was her time to shine.
“I knew this year I was going to have to fill some shoes from past years,” Young said. “I wanted to do it, to do my best for my teammates because we wanted to win super-bad. It was fun to play with them. I pushed my hardest every game and showed up with the energy.”
One of the things that Young doesn’t have is prototypical pitcher size.
“She works hard but if you look at her, she doesn’t strike fear into you,” Andrews said. “She doesn’t look like a pitcher, doesn’t look like a hitter — but she’s both.”
Andrews recalled Young telling him one time that she liked it when other teams would see her and scoff about her being tiny.
“Then she would go out and blow them away,” Andrews said. “When she gets her stuff working, she does very well.”
The Don star usually had a moment in games when things didn’t go her way but her ability to recover was impressive.
“I know she is going to have one inning where we struggle trying to get through it,” Andrews said. “It happened every game but if she got through that, she is lights out.”
That was on display during the state tournament as Spanish Fork came in after having some rough times but ended up making it back to the 4A title game.
“What I remember is how much we came together and how everyone played with so much heart when it mattered in the state tournament,” Young said. “I’m proud of everyone for that. It was hard after the losses in region but we were lucky that our coaches were really positive. Right before the state tournament they talked to us about how it was a new start.”
Young is now getting ready to head to Snow College to continue her softball career as well as to get her education.
“I’m thinking about going into business management,” Young said. “I was thinking about going into real estate.”
As she looks back on her high school career, she said the best advice she can give to a young player is to give it their all.
“Play with your full heart every single game because it definitely goes by fast,” Young said. “Every day you get to wear this jersey is a really good day. Be proud of it.”
Daily Herald sports reporter Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @JaredrLloyd. Instagram: @JaredrLloyd.