If you’re looking for her, she’s probably on a diamond or trail throughout southern and central Indiana.
Brownstown Central’s Kourtney Branaman has put in the extra time for her softball and cross-country tenure.
“I’ve played softball since I was in kindergarten,” Branaman said. “I started cross-country in seventh grade. I did it for basketball conditioning, and then just kind of stuck with it even though I ended my career in basketball.”
Softball is her favorite sport, although she said she had a lot of fun in cross-country.
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The senior pitched and played infield for the Braves this spring, and said she began pitching when she was in third grade.
She has taken pitching and hitting lessons from a coach in Columbus through the years.
“I have been playing travel ball for as long as I can remember,” Branaman said. “That is where I think a lot of the fun comes into it that we actually get to spend time with people and that is when you make the connections spending all weekends with them.
“Endurance is key on the weekends because some tourneys you might do real good and play one or two games on a Saturday, but if you’re in a slump you might have to play back-to-back in the loser’s bracket to get yourselves back up there so it just kind of depends, but it has definitely given me endurance.”
Branaman said she normally throws five different pitches in a game.
“Typically, you don’t throw a lot of fastballs,” she said. “Spins is key for me. I’m not the tallest, strongest girl out there, so girls like me throw a lot of ‘spins.’ It’s like a screwball-drop curve, and you have to change speeds with the change up every once in a while.”
Pitch selection varies on the batters Branaman faces.
“Maeleigh (Tidd) has caught for me for many years and we have a connection that works pretty well,” Branaman said. “You don’t want to give them ‘meatballs’ two times in a row. You have to change things up. I try to keep the ball low inside or low outside.
“Our team has really good communication. Maeleigh is really good about telling where to go with the ball. Communication among ourselves, encouraging each -other has been really good this year, and I think that is a key component why we’re doing so well. Communication is really important because if we have a play going, Maeleigh will give it to me and then I have relay it to the girls.”
When she’s not on the mound, Branaman plays third base.
“The biggest thing in playing third base is you have to watch people’s hands,” Branaman said. “Usually with the No. 1 or 2 batters, if they’re left-handed batters and they’re pretty fast, they can usually bunt so that is the biggest thing you want to take into it, and the power girls you want to make sure you’re not on top of them. I have gotten hit a couple times on the leg.”
Branaman batted fifth in recent games, and said she needs to work on her patience.
“I get pretty nervous when I get up there so I just try to stay calm and tell myself ‘it’s going to be OK,’ instead of getting all worked up,” Branaman said. “You want to go with the ball.
“Bunting is very crucial. It has a lot of technique to it that people don’t realize.”
During her junior year, Branaman helped the Braves’ cross-country team advance to the semistate her junior year and to the regional in 2012.
“I was No. 5 or 6. It always depended on the race,” she said of her position in cross-country last fall.
“It was always different each race. You don’t want to get too far behind. The main thing I learned through cross-country was just to keep going. That was the hardest thing. The hot days, when you just wanted to stop, that’s the worst part.
“It was more of a mind-over-matter kind of thing. You can do it. You just have to tell yourself you can. The hot weather was pretty bad, but also I think running in the real, real cold, when we advanced to semistate, it was hard too because it wasn’t just cold. It rained, too.”
She said practice was important.
“We practiced intervals and stuff to learn how to pace ourselves, and to run at a certain pace.”
Branaman said her best time was 23:13.
“I like it because it’s a team sport, but it’s really an individual sport,” Branaman. “I like that you work for yourself, but it also comes together for our team. You all have your own, personnel roles. I like that aspect, and I also like the part that you make friends. We did a lot of cool, different things during the summer.
She said the mental part of athletics is essential.
“It’s real important as a pitcher not to get down on yourself because there are going to be times where you’re going to walk someone,” Branaman said. It’s just part of the game. Your attitude can play a big role in how the game goes.”
Name: Kourtney Branaman
Parents: Doug and JoAnn Branaman
Sibling: Austin, Kaylee
Sports: cross country 4 years, softball 4 years, basketball 1 year
Athletic honors: CC- advanced to semi-state once, advanced to regional twice.
Favorite away field: “We have some nice fields in the Mid-Southern Conference. Charlestown is probably the best one.”
Favorite away CC course: Bedford North Lawrence.
Attending BCHS: “It’s a great place to go to school and I’ve enjoyed it all. We have great teachers and they are willing to go the extra mile to help me with my school work.”
Organizations: National Honor Society, Booster Club, Lettermen’s Club, Student Council, 4-H, Youth Group and DCC.
Plans after high school: Attend Indiana University, study speech and language pathology.
Favorite food: Chicken quesadillas
Favorite movie: Full House
Favorite singer: Carrie Underwood
Favorite movie: “My Sisters Keeper”
Favorite athlete: Jenny Finch
Favorite team: Indiana University
Favorite book: A Bend In The Road
Favorite quote: “Smile, it’s what makes you beautiful.”