Katie Brignac named Gatorade Lousiana softball player of the year _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- John Curtis' Katie Brignac pitches against Jena during the Class 3A final.

Katie Brignac was 7 years old playing in a league with 10-year-olds.

She would stand in the pitcher’s circle, tapping her foot, awaiting the next opponent to step into the batter’s box. Moments later, her latest victim would be heading back to the dugout after striking out.

It became so common that a group of parents, about 50 of them, passed around a petition to get Brignac out of the league.

“It was a recreational league, and they wanted it to be recreational,” recalled Joe Brignac, Katie’s dad. “Katie was striking them out, and they didn’t really think it was fair. But she was just so competitive.”

She was eventually taken out of the rec league and began playing tournament ball. More than a decade later, that competitiveness and dominance has never left.

Brignac capped her sensational high school career at John Curtis with a dominant senior season that led to her being named Farm Bureau Miss Softball by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.

Her pregame routine was the same. She would listen to Christian music on the bus ride to the game, then pray with assistant coach Jarrod Fabacher before the game.

“He has inspired me a lot,” Brignac said. “He is a Godly man, and he knew when something was wrong with me on the mound and he knows how to calm me down.”

Then Brignac would step into the circle and mow down opponents, just like she did years ago.

This season, the Memphis signee compiled a 23-2 record, striking out 290 batters to go with a 0.18 ERA. She helped lead Curtis to its third consecutive state championship, this one in Class 3A after back-to-back 2A titles as a sophomore and a junior.

The secret to her success?

“I guess it’s my work ethic,” Brignac said. “To be a pitcher, it takes a lot more. There is practice, and then there is pitching practice so you have to do double the work that everybody else does.”

Brignac always has wanted to pitch, dating to her early childhood days growing up in Denham Springs, where she lived until second grade. She would walk around the house pretending to pitch.

“Then I started playing and pitching, mimicking my sister,” Brignac said.

Brignac proved to not only be a force on the mound, but also at the plate. She batted .544 with six home runs, 41 RBIs and an .823 slugging percentage. She hit a home run and had three RBIs in the semifinal victory over Notre Dame.

“We only expect greatness out of Katie all of the time,” Curtis coach Jerry Godfrey said. “That’s a lot of pressure on her, but she embraces it.”

For Brignac, being named Miss Softball is the latest honor in what has been a flurry of postseason awards. She also was The New Orleans Advocate’s Female Athlete of the Year as well as Louisiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year, continuing the family dominance in softball.

Her older sister Ashley also was a standout at Curtis. She was named Miss Softball and Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year twice, winning National Gatorade Player of the Year in 2007.

Joe Brignac admits there was some pressure on his younger daughter trying to follow in the steps of her sister.

“Ashley kind of broke the ground,” Joe Brignac said. “When I brought Katie along, we knew she had a target on her back. She never really had her own identity until this year. She knew who she was though, so it never bothered her.”

Ashley compiled a 122-4 record and was on four state championship teams, three as starting pitcher. She went 25-0 her senior season with a 0.00 ERA, allowing just 14 hits in 150.2 innings before going on to play at Louisiana-Lafayette.

Katie, throwing from 3 feet farther from the plate because of a rule change, put together mind-boggling career numbers as well. She finished her high school career with a 93-9 record. She had 932 strikeouts and a 0.20 ERA to go with her .420 batting average.

“It wasn’t really any pressure,” Katie said about following in her sister’s footsteps. “Everybody compared us. But coaches would always remind me that I wasn’t her and we weren’t going to be the same and to just be my own person, do what I do and make my own story. I think I did that. I hope so.”