Time out: Scott Hotard column for July 8
The most memorable night Brittany Mack ever experienced at Tiger Park may have come more than a month after she threw her final pitch in an LSU softball uniform. It may have come on a night when she wasn’t even pitching.
After watching her USSSA Pride teammates hold off the Carolina Diamonds on Friday in the opener of a National Pro Fastpitch series, Mack walked out of the dugout at her home college stadium and into the pitcher’s circle, where LSU unveiled a graphic of Mack (the top pick in the NPF draft last spring) that will soon be installed on the Tiger Park concourse.
The real fireworks came a few minutes later.
Wearing a red Brittany Mack jersey, Josh Oakes sneaked up behind his girlfriend of four years, pulled an engagement ring from the pocket of his khaki shorts and dropped to one knee. Mack said yes. The crowd roared its approval.
“I wasn’t so much nervous as I was excited,” said Oakes, a Shreveport native. “I knew we were both ready for this step.”
Mack’s career at LSU was full of big, memorable moments.
How about the time she went 14 innings to beat Alabama, the first of her two wins over the nation’s No. 1 team in a 2011 series sweep? How about the time she picked up a bat against Georgia and, in one of only nine career plate appearances, laced an RBI double to score the only run of a Senior Day victory?
Mack sent LSU to the super regionals for the first time since 2007 with a three-hit gem against Texas A&M on May 20. She threw a two-hit shutout against South Florida to give the Tigers a 1-0 win in the Women’s College World Series.
For her career, the right-hander from Round Rock, Texas, racked up 56 wins and 602 strikeouts (fourth in LSU history) with a 1.96 earned run average.
“I always challenged the players to leave it better than they found it,” former LSU coach Yvette Girouard said. “I think she has left LSU softball better than she found it. She made it better.”
No wonder Pride coach Beth Torina, who coached Mack at LSU this past season, looked right across the clubhouse when it came time to use the No. 1 pick in the NPF draft.
For all her brilliance on the field, Mack was just as much a star off it.
She was named Southeastern Conference softball’s co-scholar athlete of the year as a senior and graduated from LSU in May with a 3.6 GPA.
Through her relationship with the Miracle League Association at Cypress Mounds, Mack challenged LSU softball fans to donate sports equipment at home games for kids with special needs.
More than 400 items were donated.
So it’s hardly a surprise the home crowd cheered so loudly Friday night when Mack ran onto the Tiger Park diamond during pregame player introductions. Or, hours later, when she found herself a bride-to-be.
“She deserves great things in her life,” Torina said. “She’s done so much for this program and just been such a good face for our team and this area.”