Braud makes immediate impact

Laura Owens

Though she’s only a sophomore for the Alabama softball team, Kayla Braud made a huge impact in her two seasons.

Currently leading the team this season with a .460 batting average, 63 hits, 52 runs, 10 doubles, a .540 on-base percentage and 44 stolen bases, Braud ranked as The Crimson White’s No. 4 athlete on campus.

“For me in general, it’s always what can I do for my team, how can I help us win, how can I help us score runs,” Braud said. “That’s always my focus. It’s never about batting averages or things like that. It’s always about how I can help my team win. I think when I came in here as a freshman, it’s nice to know that I was doing that.”

The 44 stolen bases she has leads the nation. She also leads the conference in stolen bases, as well as in hits and runs scored. Her batting average is second in the Southeastern Conference.

Braud was recently named a Top 25 Finalist for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year for the second time.

She ended her freshman season with a batting average of .505, an on-base percentage of .564, 75 runs, 95 hits, four triples and 45 stolen bases, leading the team in those six offensive categories. She was also named to the All-SEC first team as well as the All-Freshman team.

“The sky’s the limit to her offensive potential,” said head coach Patrick Murphy. “She has the capability of being one of the best, if not the best, offensive player we’ve ever had at Alabama. I mean, her batting average as a freshman was over .500, and who does that as a freshman? It’s unreal.”

She’s here at Alabama all the way from Eugene, Ore. Though she’s far from home, she said she has found a new home in Tuscaloosa.

“I love playing softball here because I feel like I’m part of a family on this team, and I love the atmosphere here when we play at home because the fans are incredible,” she said. “It’s a really special feeling to play for this team in Tuscaloosa.”

Murphy said that when Braud was being recruited, he saw a lot of different assets she could bring to the team.

“She had great energy, she had great enthusiasm for the game, she was fast, she got on base every time I saw I her play,” Murphy said. “It was obvious that she was a class above a lot of the kids she was playing with and against.”

This season, she’s made the switch from second base to outfield. Though she’s never played outfield before, Murphy said she made the switch easily.

“She’s been terrific,” Murphy said. “She’s caught every ball, she’s made every play. If you were to walk up and watch us play, you’d never say the leftfielder looks awkward, because she doesn’t. She handles everything really well.”

Aside from the defensive change, Braud said she’s been working on her offensive game. She said now that she’s a sophomore, the teams have faced her before, so she wants to stay a threat offensively.

“This year, I’ve been more focused on finding ways to use all three elements of my game,” she said. “I can bunt, slap and hit, so I guess I’m trying to be a threat in all aspects pretty equally. I think that’s what I try to improve on every game.”