The Front Row with MARK NELKE April 29, 2010
Some people might measure their success in a game by the number of hits they got, number of runs they scored, or number of runs they knocked in.
Post Falls High senior second baseman Bri Joseph simply chooses to take one look at her uniform.
"I love leaving the field with a dirty uniform," Joseph said. "I hate when I'm clean, because I probably didn't play my hardest that day."
Her offensive numbers for the Trojans this season are impressive - a .380 batting average, 17 runs scored, five doubles, 8 for 8 in stolen bases, a .492 on-base percentage and a .520 slugging percentage heading into this week's play.
But it's her defense which also catches the eye of her coaches and teammates.
"She's saved us so many ballgames over the last three years, making great defensive plays," Post Falls coach Jack Foster said.
"I am so confident on the mound when she is behind me, because she has soooo much range," Post Falls senior pitcher Richelle Ashburn said. "And she's not afraid to dive. I never even think twice when the ball is hit to her. ... she has an amazing amount of range. Bri covers a lot of ground; she makes me confident and comfortable when I'm pitching."
Joseph, who has signed to play next season at NCAA Division I Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., has played mostly at second base for Post Falls, and is hoping to help the Trojans get to state for the first time in her four years on the varsity.
"I love making that diving play, and saving that runner from scoring," Joseph said. "A lot of people don't like to dive, but that's my favorite thing."
Joseph, the youngest of three girls, moved up to Post Falls from San Diego prior to her freshman year when her parents tired of the congestion and the cost of living in California. They had previously visited an aunt and uncle who lived in North Idaho and "we loved it," Bri said.
A natural right-hander, Bri started batting lefty when saw her older sisters, Lacy and Cassie, both bat left-handed. Plus, being a couple steps closer to first base out of the batter's box doesn't hurt for Bri, the Trojans' leadoff hitter. Lacy is a natural left-hander, while Cassie throws right and bats left. When Bri was a freshman on the Post Falls varsity, Cassie was her teammate as a senior.
The soft-spoken Joseph isn't a slapper-type leadoff hitter in the traditional sense - hitting away has worked just fine so far - but she says when she's not hitting well, she'll try slap hitting to get herself going.
Amy Hayes, Bradley's second-year head coach, was head coach at Portland State the previous three seasons, so she knew of Joseph before she changed jobs. In 2009, Bradley qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time in the program's history.
Joseph said she hasn't decided on a major, but is considering becoming a dietitian - or perhaps a sports broadcaster.
In summer ball (she has played with the Spokane Sliders, and last fall played with Ashburn on the Tri-Cities-based Washington Spirit) Joseph plays third base and in the outfield - mostly in left field. Bradley recruited her as a "utility" player. She said she'll play wherever it takes to get her on the field.
"I would guess in college she might end up playing center field, because she can fly," Foster said. "She can play anywhere you want her to play."
Wherever Joseph ends up playing in Peoria, you can bet she'll do her best to leave the field with a little bit of dirt on her uniform.
Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via e-mail at email@example.com.