For Brierra Tyler, softball is very much a family tradition. She started playing at the age of five after watching her grandfather play in his softball league.
In the 13 years since, Tyler says she’s “grown as a player, both mentally and physically,” and she now plans to take her talents to the next level, committing to play college softball for the Norfolk State University Spartans.
“I feel a sense of relief now that my decision has been made,” she said. “It was one of the hardest decisions I have had to make, but I am grateful for this journey and opportunity. COVID-19 definitely slowed down the recruiting process especially with me not being able to visit campuses I just had to step out on faith and make the decision that was right for me.”
Tyler made her mark in the pitcher’s circle for the Lions in her sophomore season in 2019. Over the course of 17 games, she struck out 39 batters and had an earned run average of 4.10. She was equally formidable on offense. Batting in the middle of the lineup, she tallied a .388 batting average with four triples, two home runs, 10 RBIs and 15 runs scored.
“Bre is calm, cool and collected when she’s in the circle or batters box,” said Louisa softball coach Susan Sharpe. “ [She’s] definitely a ‘never let them see you sweat’ type of player. When she steps on the field she is ready to go to work. She’s constantly working on improving her game and is never satisfied.”
Tyler, who began pitching when she was eight, has found she enjoys the amount of control the position gives her over the game.
“It gives me the chance to show my abilities,” she said. “I can put the ball in the strike zone or I can put the ball in play and give the defense a chance to shine.”
Tyler’s talents drew the attention of a number of schools, including Bridgewater College, Bowie State, UVA-Wise and Lynchburg College. But it was Norfolk State that registered with her the most.
“I’d gone to camps at Norfolk State, and I met with the team and the head coach,” she said. “I really felt like I belonged there.”
The school’s appeal didn’t end with its softball program. The academic offerings were a draw as well. While there, Tyler plans to major in health administration and minor in biology to pursue a career in the medical field. Tyler was also attracted by the variety of nearby activities, and the school’s on-campus police force, saying that feeling safe “with the situation going in the world right now” was a priority for her.
One thing Tyler says she will take away from her time playing softball in Louisa is a lesson instilled in her by her coaches: Never give up.
“Everyone makes mistakes,” she said. “Nobody’s perfect. It’s about how you handle the mistakes. That’s a life lesson, not just a softball lesson.”
Tyler wasn’t able to have a junior season this spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are plans for an abbreviated softball season next spring, and Tyler is hopeful that she will get to play for the Lions one last time. But the fact that it’s not a given is something that’s on her mind.
“It’s kind of upsetting, that we might not have a senior season,” she said. “It’s kind of an emotional time. Hopefully I can play with the girls one last time.”