Nevaeh Brown did not think she was ready. Her opposing coaches, however, felt differently.
After suffering through a 17-year playoff drought, Harker Heights finally completed its longtime metamorphosis into an area power this season, capturing the first district championship in Killeen ISD history before embarking on the deepest playoff run the Lady Knights ever produced.
Although it took a complete team effort to alter its reality, Brown propelled the program.
Despite being just a sophomore, Brown excelled on the mound and at the plate, and her showings could not be overlooked as rival coaches named her 12-6A All-District Most Valuable Player.
While the pitcher was confident she could earn the award one day, admittedly, she did not expect it would be during the infancy of her career.
“I am very surprised to be having this level of success so soon,” Brown said. “I just want to give God all the glory and thank my parents for pushing me throughout the summer. It was hard, because I would have early morning workouts and late-evening workouts.
“It’s just nice to know that all the hard work I put in and they put in is being rewarded.”
En route to guiding Harker Heights to an overall record of 32-9-1 following its postseason trip to the regional quarterfinals, Brown compiled a 22-4 record pitching with a pair of saves and 317 strikeouts.
And she was equally lethal on offense.
Brown finished with a .370 batting average, collecting 35 hits, including seven home runs and nine doubles, to go with 38 RBIs. Additionally, she was intentionally walked six times.
Along with being MVP, Brown was also named pitcher of the year as the Lady Knights, who were 13-1 in district, finished with five superlatives.
Senior catcher Rozalyn Simmons was named defensive player of the year, senior center fielder/pitcher Evan Fuller was named utility player of the year, and head coach Kye Robertson was named coach of the year.
Furthermore, Harker Heights placed five players — seniors Clarissa Gutierrez, Cerenity Hunkin and Doxa Maulolo and freshmen Marivel Reyes and Eva Armstong — on the first team and two — junior Paige Findley and sophomore Leilani Leon-Guerrero — on the second team.
“It was amazing to see that my teammates got what they deserved,” Brown said. “I’m glad their hard work was also recognized. We are all very close and knew we had to trust each other like sisters before we could trust each other like teammates.
“That mentality was the secret to our success this year.”
Rounding out the superlative awards, Copperas Cove sophomore third baseman Larisa Perez and Temple junior shortstop Lily Wiser split the honor for offensive player of the year, while Ellison junior third baseman Elayna Goff and Temple freshman pitcher Maddison Ruiz were named co-newcomers of the year.
Bryan finished with the second most first- and second-team selections, totalling three on each team, while Belton, Copperas Cove and Temple each had five players honored.
The Lady Tigers placed the trio of McKenzie Drake, Kaylee Rodriguez and Kaylee Jordan on the first team, while Mia Garza and Lole Reyes landed on the second team for Belton.
Emma Wasiak, Meagan Hunt and Anissa Amarro represented the Lady Bulldawgs on the first team, and teammates Illiana Buitron and Lynsey Robison were placed on the second team.
For Temple, Chloe Prentiss, Alena Salazar and Jordyn Valdez landed on the first team, while Elise Munoz and Kaegan Yepma landed on the second team.
The Lady Eagles tandem of Gwyn Gebert and Kyana Rogers, Shoemaker standouts Madelyn Morua and Jaden Crenshaw and Killeen junior Julia Jurewicz completed the first team.
The Lady Kangaroos, Lady Grey Wolves and Ellison also each placed two players on the second team.
Kendall Gross and Landry Searcy represented Killeen, Lorynn Wolf and Trinity Cutbirth were selected for Shoemaker, and Alex Morales and Taylor Brodine were placed on the squad for Ellison.