After being an independent program for Brooke Short's first three years Longwood is now a full-fledged member of the Big South Conference so if the Lancers can win the conference tournament they'd earn an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. "We've always been independent so we never got that chance to show everyone who Longwood really was so we're definitely looking forward to it," Short said after a doubleheader sweep of Liberty Monday night.
The postseason stage is the place where head coach Kathy Riley would like to see her best player shine. "We have to start a lot of young players and for Brooke, having to stand up and have people depend on her and be in the lime light and her accept that role and not be afraid of it, I think is a big deal. It'll help her grow as a person more so we're looking for her to be able to take us to the conference tournament and go out on the mound," Riley said.
Short, an Altavista H.S. product, who led the Lady Colonels to the 2009 Group A state championship is 16-5 with a 2.41 ERA this season as a pitcher. With the bat, she's hitting .420 with 14 home runs and 53 RBIs. In Monday night's victories, Short threw a complete game in game two with nine strikeouts and was 3-5 with two home runs, five RBIs, three walks, and five runs scored. "I think Brooke came out of the womb as a hitter, already knowing how to hit and I really believe that because she just has a really smooth, sweet, left-handed swing," Riley said.
Her overall performance this season comes after she had shoulder surgery over the summer to fix a torn labrum. "It happened [during a tournament] in Florida. [The umpires] were calling a lot of illegal pitches so I was trying to change up a lot at the same time and something just popped when I threw a curve ball."
Needless to say, she has rebounded nicely. "Right now she's our most valuable player. When you put her as a number three hitter in our lineup and then you're going to turn around and give her the ball at the mound. It's a big deal," Riley said.
So is her development as a student and person. "Our primary concern is seeing her develop off the field and I see her coming from being a really shy country girl from Altavista in learning to speak up for herself and learning to be more independent. That's really what we're after here," Riley explained.
She also said, "I think Brooke ought to be in the mix" for conference player of the year. Short said, "It would be awesome, ending on a good note and also going up against all the other good players in the conference. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing who gets it."