A record few high-school baseball and softball student-athletes will reach their 100-hit marks this year thanks to a lost 2020 season. Only extreme standouts in South Jersey will be able to reach that elusive milestone.
Last month, Deptford High School junior Brianna Stocklin became one of those few when she recorded her 100th career hit on May 15 in a game against Collingswood. Fortunately, Stocklin had already put herself in a fantastic position to reach the mark after a fantastic freshman year.
Coach Mindy Coxe, currently in her fifth year at the helm of Deptford’s softball program, went 4-14 her first year before the arrival of Stocklin and fellow classmates, a group Coxe had heard would be able to make an immediate impact on the program.
“There was a core group of incoming freshmen in my second year that I heard a bunch about the year before,” Coxe said. “There were nine of them coming in, with eight of them being starters pretty much right away, with Brianna being one of them … She has more than exceeded any expectations I could’ve and would’ve had for her.”
Exceeded is right; All Stocklin did her freshman year was break the program record for hits in a season previously held by Annie Murphy, who had 49 hits in her senior year. Stocklin collected 51 in just her first year of high-school softball.
Looking back, Coxe remembers speaking with Stocklin at the conclusion of her sophomore year and agreeing she had the potential to break the program’s career-hits record after just two years.
“During preseason last year, before it eventually got cancelled, Stocklin had said that was her ultimate goal,” Coxe said. “She wanted to reach 100 hits by the end of her junior year, and then her mindset was to break the program hits records by the end of her senior season. I don’t think she would’ve settled for anything less than that if given the opportunity.”
Of course, a cancelled 2020 season prevented Stocklin from making her dreams a reality. But she nonetheless recorded her 100th career hit a year later than originally planned at an away game, a 15-6 win over Collingswood. Stocklin had a season high four hits, one of which was a home run.
Stocklin felt no pressure heading into that game, allowing her to relax and reach the milestone.
“I think I felt good that day because I didn’t wake up thinking I was going to get it, because I was still four hits away,” Stocklin said. “And all season before that, I hadn’t had four hits in a game yet, so I kind of didn’t expect to get it going in, which helped.”
Despite the year off last year, Stocklin kept working with her travel team, the NJ Gators, work that paid off a year later when the high-school softball season started again.
“All offseason, we were working hard and still going at it, while being cautious of COVID. But those hitting lessons and everything really helped me coming into this season,” said Stocklin, who plans to attend Kutztown University. “I was really feeling confident coming into this year.”
Despite only a few games left in the season, Coxe said there was never a doubt in her mind that Stocklin would reach the mark.
“She’s had that goal for so long, especially since hitting 51 her freshman year,” the coach said. “She set her goals high, and I know she works tremendously hard in the offseason for her to have the kind of success that she does.
“For some people, it’s difficult enough to complete it in four years, but she did it in three, so it’s just tremendous on her part.”