Softball: Richards’ LeBeau has the look of Player of the Year
By Tony Baranek email@example.com June 20, 2012 11:04PM
Brianna LeBeau from Richards High School is the SouthtownStar softball player of the year. | Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 23, 2012 6:22AM
Brianna LeBeau looked out at the softball diamond where she had sparkled like one for the past four years.
She had a smile on her face, a satisfied look in her eyes.
On the field, with a ball or bat in her hand, such a look would never do. Not for this Bulldog.
But this wasn’t a moment to be intense, just one to reflect. And this mirror would make anyone smile.
“I can’t really say that it’s sad, because it’s been such a great experience here,” LeBeau said. “There was so much hard work and good times that I’ve had on this field that it’s made me completely the person I’ve become on and off the field.
“What’s sad is the fact that I won’t be playing with these girls anymore. But I hope to keep in touch. We’ve all created a huge softball family at Richards.”
LeBeau, the 2012 Jenny’s Steakhouse/SouthtownStar Softball Player of the Year, also has created a legacy that will be difficult for future Bulldogs to match.
During her high school career, LeBeau competed in two sports (softball and basketball) for four years, and in another (volleyball) for three. The past three softball seasons she was the Player of the Year in the South Suburban Red. In the past two, she had the same stature in basketball.
That’s a whole lot of star quality.
“It feels great to know that people recognize me and think so highly of me,” she said. “But when I get the awards, it’s not just me. You can’t just go out there and be a phenomenal pitcher without everyone behind you.
“My shortstop, Hannah (Jenkins), made great plays. Everyone on the field made great plays and made me look good.”
LeBeau’s numbers did a great job of that as well during the 2012 softball season.
In the circle, the Northwestern-bound senior right-hander was 21-5, with 158 strikeouts in 167 innings. She threw one perfect game, one no-hitter, nine shutouts and posted a 0.88 ERA.
At the plate, LeBeau batted .591, with 23 doubles, 48 runs and 41 RBI. The batting average was the highest in Richards softball history.
“She is the best I’ve ever coached in 25 years,” Bulldogs coach Julie Folliard said. “She’s just a special athlete with an incredible will to win.”
LeBeau lived up to some pretty high expectations.
Before she arrived at Richards as a freshman, older sisters Amanda and Brittany were considered among Richards’ best multisport athletes. There were whispers then that another LeBeau, the “best one of all,” was soon to make her entry.
“I heard it,” LeBeau said, smiling. “I kind of had that little cloud over me that, ‘Ohh, she’s going to be better than the other two.’ But a lot of the stuff that has made me the player I am came from them. I watched so much of my sisters, and even my brother (Austin), I really learned how to be a competitor from them.”
During her career, LeBeau pitched and played at various times at first and second base, shortstop and right field. She had a 73-20 career pitching record with a 0.93 ERA. She hit .517, with 179 RBI.
She had power, pretty fair speed — and the look.
Opposing batters were better off not looking. Umpires maybe looked too hard. LeBeau did have two warnings in 2012 for basically having — the look.
“You know ... it’s all in the game,” LeBeau said, laughing. “It’s not me trying to be mean or show anybody up, but when I’m working as hard as I am, it gets frustrating when you think that ball is a strike, or you think you tagged that person and the ump sees it a different way.
“In basketball, I would be diving all over the place and maybe running over people while doing it, but it was all about wanting to win and going out there and giving 100 percent.”
Richards reaped the benefits, to be sure.