When Caitlyn Books walks away from the softball program at Burbank High after four years of success with the Bulldogs, she will have accumulated a trophy case full of awards and honors.
Brooks added to that hall this past season, as the pitcher and power hitter collected her share of hardware following a wildly successful junior campaign.
Although some might think winning awards has become old hat for Brooks, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“It means a lot to me to win an award each year,” Brooks said. “It is special to me every year because every year is different. There are girls who are getting better and better every year and just to be recognized among these great players is just awesome.
“I have been lucky to have earned some great awards the past few years; it’s pretty cool and I still get excited about it.”
Brooks proved to be a complete player during the 2014 season for Burbank. Along with putting up big numbers in the circle, she was also one of the most feared hitters in the area.
Along with being named the Pacific League Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, the pitcher was named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Assn. All-West Region first team and garnered All-CIF Southern Section first-team accolades. In addition, she was voted the 2014 All-Area Softball Player of the Year.
However, her most impressive accolade came on the national level. Brooks was one of just 48 players chosen for the 2014 NFCA High School All-America softball teams, as the right-hander was a third-team selection. The NFCA High School All-America teams are selected by a committee of head coaches from a pool of players that previously earned first-team All-Region recognition in five regions. The athletes were honored on three 16-player All-America squads.
“I didn't even know that award existed, so it was a really big shock when my coach told me that I had made it,” said Brooks, who was a member of the Bulldogs girls’ golf team in the fall. “That is something that I really didn't expect. But I was so honored when my coach told me … it was really awesome.
“There are some very good players across the nation and to be even considered among them with something like this is a very big honor. It’s just nice when you win an award because it just shows all the hard work you put in has paid off.”
It is because of her accomplishments that Brooks has been named the 2013-14 Burbank Leader Female Athlete of the Year.
Behind Brooks, Burbank had a 24-4 record and went 14-0 in the Pacific League, rolling to its second straight championship. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they couldn’t carry that success over into the CIF Southern Section Division II playoffs. Despite being the No. 1 seed in the tournament, Burbank lost in the second round to Palos Verdes, 5-2.
Brooks proved to a huge part of the Bulldogs’ success in league, as she had a sparkling 14-0 mark in the circle.
However, as good as she was as a pitcher, Brooks was as efficient and dominating at the plate as she was in the circle.
“I try and concentrate on my hitting as much as I do on my pitching,” said Brooks, who has given a verbal commitment to the University of Notre Dame. “That is a part of my game that I just can’t neglect and something that I work really hard on. I just want to be the complete player, because I know that’s what they want once I get to college.
“I have been taking pitching lessons a little longer than I have been taking hitting lessons. I think I started pitching lessons at 8 and hitting lessons at 10. We just wanted to make sure that along with my pitching, I would be able to hit on any team that I might be on.”
In the circle, Brooks had a 21-4 record and a 1.18 earned-run average over 160 innings. In addition, she struck out 258 and walked 22.
At the plate, she had a .513 average (40 for 78) and drove in 42 runs, had seven doubles, six triples and five home runs. She also ended with a .948 slugging percentage and a .623 one-base percentage. In addition, Brooks drew 25 walks, as many teams chose to pitch around her.
In three seasons with the Bulldogs, the dominant right-hander has racked up 62 victories and has a .838 winning percentage.
But perhaps lost in her impressive numbers as a pitcher are the stats she has put up at the plate. During the three-year span, Brooks has a .489 batting average with 100 runs batted in and 22 home runs.
Looking back on her season, Books is reflective more about what the Bulldogs were able to accomplish as a team, instead of being focused on her individual accomplishments. But she does admit the second-round playoff loss stuck with her for awhile.
“It was a tough loss to go out in the playoffs like that,” said Brooks, whose Bulldogs lost just one starter from the 2014 team to graduation. “But I think it really fueled our fire for next year. That one loss can’t take away from the great season that we did have. We won league last year and that was the most important thing for us.
“I know a lot of the girls are already looking forward to next season.”
Follow Jeff Tully on Twitter: @jefftsports.