The same case as any other spring athlete, Brittany Holland saw her 2020 softball season cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in her situation it was the third straight season she lost.
Back in 2018 in just her third game with Louisiana, Holland tore her right ACL. After a year of rehab, she was cleared shortly before the 2019 season, only to suffer the same injury to her left knee along with a torn MCL and meniscus.
For 2021, Holland joins Arizona State as a transfer with hopes of a fresh start and more importantly, just a full season. It’s been a grind physically and mentally for her, but she was never going to leave softball behind.
“I’ve played all of my life and did not work this hard to get to this point and not play,” Holland said. “Even on the hard days when people didn’t understand why I’m doing this or telling me, ‘I wouldn’t have done that if I were you.’ In the back of my mind, I just told myself I did not work this hard to give up.”
It’s a homecoming for Holland. The Gilbert, Ariz. native spent her high school career at Mesquite. That is the main reason for her choice in Arizona State. It was to be back close to family.
“It was just time to come home,” Holland said. “Ultimately I wanted to be closer to my family. Being in Louisiana was an awesome experience but it was the perfect opportunity to come home.”
Family also kept Holland going through the adversity. Her father, Brad, who has served as a coach in baseball and currently works in the scouting department for the Philadelphia Phillies, was in her ear the whole time.
His mentality that he shares with his daughter resembles that of Arizona State head coach Trisha Ford.
“I grew up that way. Coach Ford and my dad have the same mindset when it comes to the grind,” Holland said. “I always grew up with my dad pushing me hard and he always reminded me not to give up and basically told me, ‘don’t try, just do it.’ When I was going through my rehab process he kept on me about ‘work while you wait, your time is coming.’”
Ford enjoys players who take on the travails that the sport puts an individual through. There’s never a locked position in her eyes for any person. She wants players that fight for playing time and compete everyday. Truly that’s all Holland wants is to play, someway, somehow.
“She’s been a coaches dream coming in,” Ford said. “She wants to get out here, she wants to do extra work...She’s come her fully opened minded. I attribute a lot of it to parenting. Her dad’s been in the scouting business for many years. She gets it. She fits our DNA and it’s almost like she’s been part of our program for four years.”
Her “knock on wood,” year to stay healthy and get a full season is her biggest wish, but the seasons stuck on the bench did give her a new perspective on the game.
As she watched, she gained a new pet peeve, whenever another person wouldn’t make the most of those precious moments on the field, she’d give anything to trade places with them.
“It was hard for me to sit there and watch, but I saw the game from a whole different aspect,” Holland said. “It made me not take the game for granted. When I would sit and see little things of people taking it for granted, like you don’t know how much I’d give to be out there. It made me really take in a second outlook on the game.”
Despite only appearing in 14 games across three years for the Ragin Cajuns, Holland does have collegiate success attached to her resume.
Her freshman season was spent at Central Arizona College, where she was an NJCAA first-team All-American after a 2017 performance with a .471 batting average, 15 home runs and 81 RBIs.
There’s plenty of talent there for Holland to fit right into a high-powered Sun Devil lineup. Even in a short time with the program, she’s learned a lot from Arizona State assistant coach and praised offensive mind Jeff Harger.
“I’ve only been here a month and I’ve learned so much from coach Harger,” Holland said. “I love him and the whole coaching staff. I’m excited to see what this year and the next couple years have in store for me.”