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Friday, July 1, 2011

EPBP's Foy shuffles studies and softball

PIGEON — Hitting the books has always come easy for Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port’s Brooklyn Foy.
Hitting the softball? Well, that’s another story.
Foy struggled so much at the plate her freshman season for the Lakers she pulled off a drastic — and maybe even desperate — move.
“I was so horrible,” Foy explained. “So, during the winter between my freshman and sophomore years, I worked with my dad and he kind of suggested that I switch from right-handed to left-handed. So I did — and right away I was better. 
“I probably should have been batting left-handed from the start.”
Foy’s hard work and perseverance — with the bat and the books — paid off this spring when she was not only named EPBP’s Class of 2011 Valedictorian, but also Division 3 All-State.
In the classroom, she racked up a grade-point average of 4.1667, receiving the Central Michigan University Centralis Gold Award Scholarship. She plans on majoring in school psychology at CMU.
On the diamond, she led the Lakers with a .500 batting average, 35 steals and 39 runs. She also had a .583 on-base percentage, with four doubles, one triple and just six strikeouts in 98 at-bats. For her efforts, she recently was selected to play in the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association’s All-Star game next month in East Lansing.
EPBP coach Eric Wissner is not surprised at Foy’s success.
“I knew she had the tools to do it,” he said. “My philosophy in coaching is that I am going to try to push. And you have two choices — you can push back or you can quit. I want players who are going to push back. And Brooklyn was definitely one of those players who pushed back.”
Both Foy and Wissner say their give-and-take relationship helped them get along on and off the field.

“(Coach) was almost like a second dad,” Foy said. “Sometimes at practice I would do something stupid and he’d be like, ‘You have a four-point what, Brooklyn?’”
Even with that type of back-and-forth banter, Wissner says Foy knew when to get serious.
“Almost every girl at one time or another has said, ‘Coach, I have to miss practice because I have to make up an assignment,’ or ‘Coach, I have to miss practice because I have to do homework.’ But Brooklyn never did,” he said. “I think she missed one practice for college orientation. That is the only practice I ever remember her missing.
“She’s just a tremendous student-athlete who was a pleasure to coach.”
Of course, it helped that Foy turned around in the box and became a slap hitter — a left-hander whose goal is to put the ball in play to the left side of the infield and utilize speed to get on base and put pressure on the defense. Slap hitters like Foy also are usually the most disciplined hitters on the team because they have to know the strike zone and what the pitcher is capable of throwing.
“The biggest thing about putting her on the left side is that she’s so fast,” Wissner said. “Almost every ground ball is a bang-bang play, and it’s just a matter of putting the bat on the ball.”
Wissner hopes Foy’s success is a lesson for some of his younger players.
“We have a couple of freshmen who we’re working at it with,” Wissner said. “Slap hitting is all timing. You have to have a lot of hand-eye coordination. 
“Brooklyn has batted over .500 the last two seasons, and with her on base all the time it creates a lot of stress for the defense.”
In addition to her offensive prowess, Foy covered all sorts of area in center field for the Lakers.
“There were times when I first started coaching that when the ball went into the air, oh boy...,” Wissner admitted. “Now, with two outs and ball in the air to center field, I could come out of the dugout because I knew the inning was over.
“She had a little added pressure this year because she had two corner outfielders who never had played out there before. She was asked to cover a little more ground this year and did a nice job.”
All this from a player who nearly gave up the game at an early age.
“When I was younger, I almost hated playing,” Foy said. “But I am glad my dad kept me playing.”
Foy and the other EPBP seniors have helped the Lakers escape from the basement of the Greater Thumb West over the last few seasons, turning them into two-time defending district champions.
“The last two years have been great,” she said. “We didn’t want it to end.”
It might not end for Foy, who is going to try to walk-on and play at CMU.
“From what I know, they are looking for a utility player to run the bases,” Wissner said. “Brooklyn is a prime candidate for that. I think she would fit in perfectly.”
Foy is excited about the chance to extend her playing career, though she admits books will come before bats and balls at CMU.
“I really didn’t think I was good enough to play in college,” she said. “If I can make the team, that would be great. But my No. 1 priority in college is academics.” 
Foy is the daughter of Greg and Karrie Foy of Pigeon.

EPBP’s Brooklyn Foy has excelled on and off the diamond for the Lakers, carrying a 4.1667 grade-point average and a just-as-impressive .500 batting average. 

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