(MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – Never did she think in her first collegiate game a home run would go sailing over the fence. Yet, this was exactly what Montana State University Billings freshman Brittanee Fisher did in her debut as a Yellowjacket. “I never expect to hit home runs or get on base,” Fisher reflected on her home run. “It just comes as it comes. It was really nice to start off this way because it makes an impression. It tells people, ‘I’m here to play softball and I’m not just a freshman coming in.’”
A 2-for-4 day with a home run and four RBIs in the very first game of her collegiate career was an impressive entrance, but the game against University of Mary did not rank as the best game thus far in the season. “The game against Metro State University was my best game so far,” Fisher said. “That was the first game that I really felt confident at third base. I was proud of myself during that game defensively because I have been struggling at third base. It’s been something totally new and everything started clicking together.”
For Fisher, it is more important to field a ground ball cleanly at third base and make the perfect throw across the field for the out rather than running the bases after slugging the ball into a windshield. Not only does Fisher put weight on making the defensive play, she underwent a transition in position that made her adjust into a new role she had never played before. “First base is my love,” Fisher stated. “It’s really fun over there, but I’m really grateful to be getting to play anywhere on the field.”
Fisher played first base and was a pitcher for Billings Senior High School as a Bronc. Little did she know that once she stepped on the field as a Yellowjacket, she would have to leave her own love to fit the need of her team. However, with serious dedication, Fisher has filled her new role beyond expectations. “It’s just a different angle than I’m used to seeing everything at,” Fisher reflected on the transition to third. “You have to be a lot quicker. You have to get the ball out of your glove fast and get it over to first. There’s more ground to cover and I have to have a longer range to throw.”
If this doesn’t speak for selfless playing, then no one must understand what does. MSUB softball has implemented the motto ‘team before self’ for its season this year. Fisher has been able to throw herself to the left side of the infield in order to become an outstanding third baseman. Fisher has also found teammates that have helped encourage her along the way thus far in her collegiate career. “I look up to a lot of our seniors,” Fisher said about her fellow teammates. “I play similarly to Cameron Cassinelli and Megan Dettling and because we have a lot in common on the field, they are really easy to look up to.”
The Billings native quickly became dedicated to her sport from the young age of 12. “Softball is something I really understand and I really enjoy playing,” Fisher said about her passion. “It makes me a better person by building leadership skills. It will help me in the long run and I really love that aspect of it.” Fisher’s family has been her biggest support and source of encouragement from the time she started playing as a young girl. “My parents have put in the money and the work to get me to where I am now,” Fisher stated. “They were at every practice, every pitching lesson, so I really give a lot to them for putting me where I am at now.” Her relationship with her parents played a role in her choice to attend MSUB. The opportunity to play the sport she loved and remain close to those she loved seemed like the perfect fit.
Entering high school, Fisher found herself playing four years of varsity softball. In 2014, she posted a career-best .550 batting average, and as a junior she won her team’s best hitter award. In her senior year, Fisher was an all-state selection on the diamond. Fisher also played basketball for the Broncs, and in 2015-16, she averaged 21 points per game. Her athletic achievements in high school led to what has become her most defining moment of success. “I won the Athlete of the Year award through the Midland Roundtable last year,” Fisher said about the reward given to one senior girl and one senior boy in the Billings school district. “In softball I always saw myself as a top competitor, but in basketball I was just there to have fun. It was really amazing to get that award and to see that I had been recognized for all of the hard work I had put in for four years.”
To the sports fan sitting in the stands watching Fisher succeed in multiple athletic arenas, Fisher looked as if she were riding the wave of success without blemish. This was not the case. “All through high school I struggled with insomnia and depression,” Fisher revealed. “I am usually a happier person and so it was hard to work through. I had a lot of support and it got better this year. I’m grateful to go through what I did because now I know how to make it through again.” These obstacles, though difficult to overcome, could not stop Fisher from becoming an extraordinary athlete.
The strength that came from the darkness of insomnia and depression propelled Fisher into the promise of a successful year as a freshman for the Yellowjackets. With 17 games under her belt, Fisher has put herself down as a stats leader. Through 50 at-bats, she has a batting average of .300 with six runs, 15 hits, three home runs, and 14 RBIs. In the team statistical categories, Fisher is in the top-6 for her batting average and four of the leaders in front of her are seniors. She holds fourth place with her slugging percentage (.520), third in on base percentage (.426), RBIs, and home runs.
“My purpose as a freshman is just coming in and doing all the work,” Fisher stated about her mindset entering MSUB. “Nobody really knows who I am at this point in the conference, so I am making sure that I am just carrying my weight the way I am supposed to. I have a role on this team and filling that role is all I am concerned with at this point. If my team is succeeding, then so am I.”
Putting her team first has been key to her own individual success. Fisher is also able to examine both her strengths and weaknesses in order to become an even better softball player. “Hitting is my strength,” Fisher stated. “I am really good at holding myself accountable and putting in the extra work to get better. However, I know I need to get better at taking charge on the field. I sometimes see myself just as the freshman that’s on the field. At this point, it’s a team thing and I need to be able to step in and work together confidently with my team.”
The MSUB softball team is currently 10-10 and will travel to Central Washington University this weekend to continue conference action. There is more on the line in conference play as all teams fight to make a top-4 spot in order to go to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships. “I go into a lot of games almost blind,” Fisher stated. “I know there is going to be a lot more competition but I hope to go in just playing the best game that I can.” With confidence at third, the team as a priority, and three home runs in the bag so far, Fisher will have no problem stepping into the batter’s box in the upcoming conference games.
When she is not driving in runs or making a play at third, Fisher is pursuing her dream of becoming both a physical education teacher and a coach. “I would like to stay here in Billings and work in the district,” Fisher said of her plans after college. “I am really close with the P.E. teachers at senior and there are a couple who will be close to retirement by the time I graduate from MSUB. I would love to work at Senior.”
Fisher has a bright future ahead of her whether that is playing the game she loves, or eventually coaching and encouraging younger players in order to develop that same love. Fisher is in a prime position to impact younger players around her because of her own mindset towards the game of softball. “I watched the Women’s College World Series on TV as a kid and I remember telling myself, ‘Wow, those girls are doing a lot.’ It would be really amazing to just be a part of something like that.”
Now, after a journey that speaks of passion, dedication, obstacle, and victory, she walks out of the dugout as #24 Brittanee Fisher, team slugger, who is ready to do what she does best for her team: hit home run number 4 and counting.