There is no substitute for speed, and it’s the one aspect of any sport that can’t be taught. A player either has it or doesn’t.
Brejae Washington, Texas’ junior center fielder, has speed. And plenty of it.
She’s so fast that 44 of her 55 hits this season never left the infield. Twenty of those infield hits came on bunts, and every one taking place when the other team knows the bunt, or at the very least a slap hit, is on Washington’s plate agenda.
No. 6-ranked Texas (42-6 overall, 12-2 in the Big 12) has won 19 of its last 21 games heading into this weekend’s three-game series at Oklahoma State. The Longhorns have already clinched second place in the league with four games to play.
Last year, Washington had 19 bunts for hits and 30 infield hits, and as a freshman in 2011 she recorded 13 bunts for hits and 10 infield hits.
All told, 111 of her 166 career hits (about 67 percent) never even made it to the outfield grass.
Once on base, Washington really creates havoc, as she already owns the Texas record for career steals with 90 and stolen bases in a season (38 in 2011, her freshman season).
“After my freshman year, everyone knew what I could do with my speed, so sometimes the players behind me in the order get better pitches to hit because they are worried about me on the bases,” Washington said. “I tell my teammates that if they hit a ball in the gap, I will go get that RBI for them because I am coming home.”
Junior shortstop Taylor Thom, who hits immediately behind Washington in the lineup and has benefited greatly from her ability to get on base, understands how important Washington is to the Longhorns’ success.
“Her game is her speed, so she has focused a lot on her bunting game and she has been extremely consistent with it this season,” Thom said. “She has also worked hard on improving standing in and hitting when the situation calls for it. That’s become something she can go to depending on the type of pitching we are facing.”
Washington is a more than just a fast runner. She ranks first in the Big 12 in triples (5) and fourth in stolen bases with 25 (out of 28 attempts). She has started all 48 games this season and is third on the team in batting with a .369 average.
She had the team’s longest hitting streak (10) this season, is second with 15 multi-hits games, including four with three hits or more highlighted by a team season-best four hits against Washington on March 15.
“I have gotten more mature and accepted my role as player more in the past three years,” Washington said. “I have always been vocal and now, as junior and team captain, I have a leadership role with this team. It’s not an easy sport and it’s hard to try to stay up and keep yourself motivated because it’s such a roller coaster every day.”
TEXAS AT OKLAHOMA STATE
7 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday, noon Sunday, Stillwater, Okla.