CHARLOTTESVILLE — Brooke Walden will never brag or boast. Without seeing a postgame box score, you may not even know she’s there.
Silently producing in a dangerous Eastern Hancock lineup last season as a junior, Walden hit a cool .387 for the 20-4 Royals, which lost by a single run in the Class 2A semistate title game. Notching 29 hits, 26 runs and 20 RBIs, the quiet, laidback senior’s bat was as deadly as any — and has been for years.
And in the field at third base, which requires soft hands and little room for fear, Walden makes defensive wizardry look easy.
Anderson University thought so, too. Walden, who plans to study nursing, signed her National Letter of Intent over winter and will play softball for the Ravens.
Story continues below gallery
“Just understanding the game and being able to perform under pressure has helped me, ” Walden said, who struck out just five times last season.
Walden’s knowledge of the game is evident in her approach at the plate. She drew a team-high 11 walks in 91 appearances and notched a hit in 18 of the team’s 24 games.
Against Irvington Prep in the Triton Central Sectional, Walden finished with four hits, which started a solid postseason tear of 11 hits in five games. She also added six doubles, two triples and two home runs last season.
Fellow senior Peyton West has spent the past four seasons playing varsity with Walden and said that she has a quiet confidence about her.
“But her bat sure speaks loud for her when she is in the box,” West said, who will also play college ball. “She’s definitely a leader for our team, again quiet, but her performance and actions speak for her.
“Not everyone can do what Brooke does.”
Although productive at the plate, Walden loves playing the hot corner. She’s good at it, too, as she finished with four errors in 49 total chances as a junior. Walden also had 14 putouts and 31 assists. Although not the busiest position, third base presents a different challenge than the rest.
“You have to react fast and don’t have to run much,” Walden joked.
Added West: “Brooke is so defensively strong. I know I can always count on her to layout and almost always make the tough play.”
However, Walden, who grew up playing softball with her father, pointed out that her junior season was in fact her worst statistically. As a sophomore, she hit .551 to go with 38 hits, 30 RBIs and 30 runs scored. She also led the team with five home runs.
Walden hit .427 her freshman year and finished with six home runs, 38 hits, 44 RBIs and 27 runs.
With the graduation of leadoff hitter Jordan Pierson (.400) and senior pitcher Darby Shaw (.387), Walden will likely move up in the Royals’ order and will be needed more than ever. And she’s already been thinking about the necessary improvements that come with being a senior — even if it throws her out of her comfort box.
“This year, I think I can be more of a leader and help the younger players out,” she said.
Eastern Hancock opens its season on April 4 at home against Cambridge City Lincoln. The Royals will play six consecutive home games before an away contest at Irvington Prep on April 14.
Anderson University was 26-14 last season and has two players from Hancock County currently on its roster. Markie Wood, a junior, played at New Palestine and Morgan Moss, a freshman, at Mt. Vernon.
Brooke Walden, Eastern Hancock
Position: Third base
College: Anderson University
Junior Statistics: .387 batting average, 29 hits, 26 runs, 20 RBIs, six doubles, two triples, two home runs, 11 walks and five strikeouts.
First Contest: April 4 at home vs. Cambridge City Lincoln