When it comes to softball, first-year Brentwood High School coach Erica Powell has just about seen it all.
Between stints at traditional state powers Friendship Christian (2007-10) and Beech (2012-14), the Midstate coaching veteran compiled a 223-85-1 record and a combined five state tournament appearances.
Powell’s most recent stop, however, has provided her with a much-needed change of pace.
“I kind of wanted to coach in a different kind of way than I’ve done before,” said Powell, who returned to the profession this spring after taking a year off to complete her doctorate as well as work as a literacy coach in Memphis.
“I’ve come into programs in the past where there’d been a target on my back, whether it was at Friendship Christian or Beech,” she added. “Coming in here it was like getting to come in and just have fun and work hard, and that has been awesome.”
Unlike her previous two jobs, Powell didn’t walk into a program with immediate state-title aspirations. She didn’t inherit a lineup loaded with travel ball talent, either.
In fact, the Lady Bruins (4-4, 1-1 11-AAA) brought back just two starters from last season’s sub-.500 squad, including junior Frankie Cable and sophomore Hannah Koenig.
“At Beech you’re getting girls who have played travel ball their entire lives, and they’ve had the lessons and all that,” Powell said. “But here, I’m getting girls that just want to learn and want to work hard and are very selfless, and it has been so much fun.”
“They’re not stars. All they want to do is win, and they don’t care who gets the credit.”
That has certainly been the case this week as Brentwood has seen standout offensive performances from two different players in wins over Columbia and Franklin.
On Monday, freshman catcher Ansley Casillas belted a pair of home runs in the Lady Bruins’ 5-3 win over Columbia. Cable delivered a three-hit, six-RBI performance in Tuesday’s 10-3 triumph over rival Franklin — Powell’s first district win at her new school.
“This pitcher was like my dream pitcher,” Cable said of Franklin’s Maddie Sherwood. “I love low and outside pitches, and when she’s on that’s pretty much all she throws.”
“Having Coach Powell here has been a blessing. She has so much experience with softball, playing and coaching, and it’s amazing to have her here.”