Freshman slides into record books


After hitting the ball, Brittany Gomez runs to first base Feb. 8 at the Bergstrom Football Complex.  Iowa State won 11-1 against University of North Dakota.

Isaac Hunt

Before this year, the ISU record in softball for most stolen bases in a season was 18. Freshman Brittany Gomez thinks she can get 40.

The left-handed outfielder currently has 20, which puts her on pace for 36 for this season. With the competition only getting better through the season, how can the 5-foot-3 Gomez be so confident?

Her father, Ruben Gomez, put it simply: She is fast. She knows she is fast, and she will tell anyone she is fast.

“Before I was here, I was known for being fast,” Brittany said. “I want to go somewhere and have people know that I am fast. I want them to know I can steal off of them. I want them to know that they have to look out for me if I get on base.”

Brittany isn’t the only one with confidence in her abilities as a baserunner. Coach Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler believes in Gomez’s speed and the possibility of getting to 40.

“Obviously it depends on how much she gets on base,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “But if she gets on base, she’s probably going to steal at some point.”

Currently hitting at .358, the freshman speedster has gotten on base 44 times with 34 hits and 10 walks. This means she attempts to steal 48 percent of the time after getting on base.

Although her forte is knowing when to go, she also knows when to stay. Brittany has only been thrown out once this season and with Erica Miller behind her, she has no reason to be impatient.

“Usually coach G will tell me [when to steal],” Brittany said. “Erica hits behind me so, I know that I don’t have to steal because she will hit me over and hit me in.”

Miller currently leads the Cyclones in batting average with .379 and RBIs with 32. Although Brittany is not accustomed to relying on her teammates’ hitting, she is learning how to use it to her advantage.

“I absolutely love it,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “It allows us to do so many things offensively with her when she gets on. Even before she puts the ball in play, she makes pitchers uncomfortable with her speed.

“It’s a huge advantage for us.”

Brittany is making noise at Iowa State with her legs, but this is not breaking news for softball enthusiasts. She was known everywhere in the softball circuit growing up, so Brittany’s speed is nothing new for many fans to see.

“She always stood out,” Ruben said. “We’d go down and play in Florida with our select team and people knew her already when she was 10 years old.

“That’s when I thought she was going to be special, especially with her attitude.”

Ruben said his daughter never had any attitude issues and he laid out the specifics of what it would take to get to the collegiate level.

“I always told her only a certain kind of player can make it to college,” Ruben said. “You have to have a great attitude, you have to love it and you have to have knowledge of the game. She had all of it.”

Growing up in a neighborhood full of boys, Brittany stayed busy and was able to find her coordination through basketball and track as well as softball.

Brittany’s hard work is what brought her to Iowa State, but she didn’t leave it home. It instead came with her to Ames.

“She had a really good idea of what she wanted to do coming in,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “She’s a worker and is continually working to get better. She’s able to make adjustments pretty fast.”

Brittany said she learned how to gauge a catcher’s arm in high school and played with some of the catchers she will face this year. Since she has been at Iowa State, however, she said she has learned everything.

“Practice is different, hitting is different,” Brittany said. “I have learned pretty much in every aspect of the game how to make myself better.”

Her talent and hard work was only part of how Brittany ended up in Division I softball, though. It was a family matter to get her here.

“My wife and I are blue-collar,” Ruben said. “We work a lot of hours. I worked seven days a week for her softball and all that to get her to where she needs to be. I told her as long as she strives for that, we will get her to where she needs to be.”

Ruben said that Brittany’s grandfather, aunts and uncles also pitched in to help send her to California, Colorado, Florida and New York all in one summer.

“Everybody always pitched in and everyone is so proud of her,” Ruben said. “Where I grew up people don’t go to college. She’s the first one. We are just so grateful for that.”