By Mike Beas
The Danville softball program issued itself an immediate challenge by scheduling 18-time sectional champion Cathedral as the season-opening opponent April 5.
Fortunately, the Warriors are solid at the top of the batting order and up the middle defensively. Senior shortstop Ella Brinkley, a starter since her freshman season, looks to fill both roles. Brinkley hopes to lead Danville to a season that lives on in scrapbooks and memory banks alike.
Coach Greg Glaser’s program appeared poised to make a serious run at its first state title a year ago at this time. However, the pandemic reared its head, snuffed out spring sports entirely and left Warriors players and coaches wondering what might have been.
Danville is equipped to make a strong postseason push this spring as well. Brinkley, the team’s leadoff hitter who bats left-handed, is one of the main reasons why.
“On the field, Ella is 100% dependable no matter where you put her. She can play anywhere but pitcher and catcher,” said Glaser. “She is probably the best player I’ve had in my 25 years of coaching softball. She knows the game inside and out.”
Brinkley is also an outstanding student, ranking seventh in Danville’s senior class of 163 students with a 4.2 grade-point average. She has signed a national letter of intent to play softball at the University of Illinois at Springfield, a Division II program.
Brinkley did a Q&A with ICON:
Q: Your coach raves about your ability to play virtually anywhere on the field. What do you attribute this to?
A: I think I’ve always been that way. When I first got into travel softball, my coaches said it was important to be able to play multiple positions. I really enjoy being that versatile because it always gives you the opportunity to be on the field.
Q: Were there any positives that came out of not having a 2020 softball season?
A: Individually, I know that I worked real hard to get better. During travel ball, I saw that I was faster and stronger. At Danville, not having a season gave us extra motivation to win a (Class 3A) state championship. My sophomore year we went to the championship game of semistate, which is as far as Danville softball has ever gone in the tournament.
Q: What will be your college major and why?
A: It’s going to be exercise science, and then I plan to go to grad school. I want to become a physical therapist. I have had issues in the past with my shoulder and elbow, so I’ve had to do physical therapy. I want to be able to help future athletes treat their injuries so they can get back to playing