For The News Courier
West Limestone softball fans have grown accustomed to seeing No. 62 in blue on the mound. An unusual number for softball, Paige Browning has worn it proudly for West Limestone’s softball team for the past four years.
Browning recently completed her senior season for the Lady Wildcats with a county championship and has been named the 2013 Coaches All-County Player of the Year.
“She was our workhorse, she was our go-to pitcher,” said West Limestone coach Mike Pressnell. “When we needed a win we would go to her.”
In three seasons Browning pitched 467 innings and struck out 498 batters in the process.
“Paige was with me a long time,” Pressnell said. “She started with me as a sophomore.”
During her high school career, Browning recorded two no-hitters and three one-hit performances.
Opponents were able to hit only a pedestrian .169 against Browning who saw her role change during her senior season.
“We were a young team so I had to learn to lead more than anything because I was used to playing with girls older than me,” Browning said.
But the dominant pitcher was more than just an ace on the mound.
Browning was the cleanup hitter for her team who batted at a .404 clip.
“A lot of times she would be the first one there, she was driven,” Pressnell said. “She would drive the other kids and they depended on her to really lead the way and she did a good job doing that.”
Now Browning is moving on to bigger and better things, signing to play college ball at Wallace State.
“I’m going to try to better myself as player as well as a person,” Browning said.
Coach Pressnell is now left with the tall task of replacing the MVP.
Pressnell said he is counting on his defense to step up along with young arms like Kaitlyn Abernathy and Breanna Tarpley to eventually shoulder the weight Browning carried.
Another player Pressnell has his eye on is Browning’s sister Bailey who will be an eighth-grader in the fall.
“My sister has a lot of advantages that I didn’t have,” Browning said, noting that Bailey has watched her play, something she didn’t have as a young player.
“I think she’ll be a whole lot better.”
So how does the team replace Paige Browning?
“You don’t,” Pressnell said with a laugh.