BY JAMIR WILSON
It’s a difficult task to become a primetime performer on a collegiate level, and being one for two sports at the collegiate level is a very rare occasion.
However, Annah Brittingham has managed to achieve that reality and display much success in her two years for the Sea Gulls.
Brittingham chose to play both field hockey and softball when she made the decision to transfer to Salisbury University in 2014 after attending Liberty University for two years.
Brittingham has been dealt the task of stepping up to the plate, literally and figuratively for the Sea Gulls this season.
The Sea Gull softball team soared to amazing heights in the 2015 season playing in the national championship tournament and falling just short of winning it all.
With the 2016 season in full swing, Brittingham has been asked to take on several roles on the field where she has successfully shown her versatility. She is a weapon that can be used on the mound, at the plate and even in the field on defense. Brittingham is currently third in runs scored with 14, and second on the team in wins from a pitcher.
“It all depends on the situation. You certainly want Annah up when you have a runner in scoring position, and the way she’s been pitching lately she’s been doing a really good job of keeping the opponent’s hitters down and hitting her spots,” Sea Gulls head coach Margie Knight said.
Growing up, Brittingham played a multitude of sports including soccer, gymnastics, field hockey and softball.
“(Knight) put me in the outfield and I told her I haven’t played there I’ve played third base, I’ve played shortstop, but outfield is not very normal to me,” Brittingham said. “I went out there and made this diving play and thought, well I might be able to play here too.”
The Pocomoke product is the ultimate gamer with a laser focus on doing whatever is necessary to help her team become victorious. Her determination was engrained early in her softball career with one particular moment beginning her journey.
“When I was about ten, on the first softball team I was on and the coaches go ‘who wants to pitch?’ and I said ‘me’ and that was when it all started,” she said.
Success was common for Brittingham before attending Salisbury. She was a part of the first softball team in history at Pocomoke High School to win a state championship.
“It was definitely one of those surreal moments that you just can’t believe actually happened,” she said.
Brittingham is in a very unique situation being a two-sport athlete at one of the premier Division III colleges in athletics.
This past fall, Salisbury’s field hockey team won the Capital Athletic Conference with the help of Brittingham who played on defense. She has been on championship caliber teams throughout her career but always remains hungry for more.
“I’m motivated all of the time, I do it with my academics, I have to be better than I was before,” Brittingham said. “Even if I play well, all I can think about is how I can do better. That’s just one thing inside me personally.”
Her determination and motivation have not only earned her the respect from her teammates, but from her coaches as well.
“She has a really great work ethic, she also has killer instinct. Up at bat she’s really driven, every time she takes a swing she is swinging as hard as she can putting everything into it,” Knight said.
Despite the softball team’s loss in the 2015 national championship tournament, the experience itself was something Brittingham says she will hold on to forever.
“It was an amazing experience being there and seeing all of those amazing athletes. I was just so surprised at how different it was than regular season,” Brittingham said. “We were upset that we didn’t win, but I definitely felt we left it all on the field, and I was proud of our team.”
Losing on a big stage can either break an athlete or give them extra motivation to improve when the next opportunity arrives. An opportunity arrived for Brittingham when fellow pitcher Rachel Johnson graduated last spring. The Sea Gulls had big shoes to fill on the mound, but it was a challenge Brittingham was willing to face.
“Anytime anything would happen (negatively), we knew Rachel had it every time,” Brittingham said. “I’m doing my best to be that pitcher, and I’m doing my best to handle all of the situations I come into, and be able to be just like (Johnson).”
Early in the season, Brittingham earned her first pitcher of the week award for the CAC, and followed it up with a no-hitter in a double-header against Houghton March 20.
“I started off a little rocky, but now I’m really thinking about getting ahead of each batter and starting off a 0-1 count. I think it’s a good step towards getting better,” she said.
With the first month of her senior year playing softball for the Sea Gulls already behind her, Brittingham is driven to make her final season a memorable one, hoping to bring home the ultimate prize once the final whistle is blown.
“Personally, I just want to go out there and play my best every single day whether it’s practice or games. I just want to give 110 percent,” Brittingham said. “It’s going to be sad when I’m done, so I’m definitely trying to be in the moment and not think about anything else.”
Brittingham has something a lot of athlete’s desire. She has experience, the advantage of being a dual-athlete, knowledge, respect but also leadership. All of Brittingham’s qualities combined may be enough to put Salisbury over the top in 2016 and let them bring home a national championship.