MOREHEAD CITY — West Carteret hadn’t known much success when Brie Caldwell stepped on the softball diamond as a freshman.
The Patriots have known nothing but success ever since.
After not winning a conference championship in the fast-pitch era, the Morehead City squad now has four.
“When Alyssa (Hall) and I came in together as freshmen, we said we were going to win conference all four years,” said Caldwell who has put together one of the best careers in West history. “We’re shocked we’ve done that, actually. It’s kind of unbelievable. We’re just in awe of it. It’s crazy.”
West completed its second straight undefeated run through the 3A Coastal Conference on Thursday with a 10-0 mercy-rule victory over Northside-Jacksonville on senior night.
Caldwell was one of the four seniors honored. She teamed with Mackenzie Collins to throw a no-hitter versus Northside. Caldwell struck out seven and walked none in 5 2/3 innings. Collins walked one in 1/3 of an inning.
The Patriots (18-4), who have put together back-to-back 10-0 conference seasons, now have a 21-game league winning streak going back to the end of the 2017 season. They’ve gone 40-4 in conference play during their four-year championship run, outscoring their opponents 372-109.
“We could’ve used some more competition, but we’ve enjoyed winning all of these games,” Caldwell said. “At first, the goal was just to win conference, but then we realized we could bump up our goals when we started winning the way we have, and we wanted to go undefeated.”
In the four years before Caldwell joined the program, West went 35-49 overall. In the four years she has suited up, the squad has gone 68-22.
The Patriots matched the record for most wins in a season Tuesday with a 2-1 win over Hunt in the first round of the 3A playoffs. The team is now 18-4. The previous record for wins came in Caldwell’s freshman campaign when the squad also went 18-4. She gave up just one earned run on eight hits against Hunt with three strikeouts and no walks.
“I just try to get the first batter out,” she said. “I don’t want to walk them or let them on base because that makes it much easier for them to score. And I remind myself to be mentally strong out there.”
She has gone 15-4 this season with a 2.59 ERA in 116 innings while striking out 117 and walking 37. She went 12-5 and had a 2.62 ERA in 120 1/3 innings as a junior, striking out 133 and walking 34.
In her four-year career, she has gone 33-9 with a 2.41 ERA while striking out 293 and walking 82 in 279 innings.
Caldwell has been nearly as remarkable at the plate, leading West with a .451 average. She also leads the team with a .524 on-base percentage and is tied for the team lead with 21 RBI.
Last year, she led the team with 24 RBI and ranked second with a .352 average. She was second on the team with 23 RBI and third with a .362 average as a sophomore. As a freshman, she ranked second on the team with a .384 average and third with 18 RBI.
“I was excited when I started as a freshman,” she said. “I love challenges. It was a big jump to varsity, but it motivated me to succeed.”
The only thing missing from Caldwell’s phenomenal résumé is a long playoff run. The Patriots have fallen in the second round in each of the past three seasons.
“Our goal is to make it to the third round because we’ve always been knocked out in the second round,” she said. “Losing in the second round last year definitely motivated us. We wanted to go farther last year. It just didn’t happen for us. This year, we are focused on making that happen. We are really tired of losing in the second round.”
West will look to move to the third round for the first time in the fast-pitch era on Friday when it hosts Cedar Ridge (20-2). Regardless of what happens in that game, Caldwell, a standout student with a 3.5 GPA, will continue her career. She has accepted a scholarship to Meredith College where she plans on majoring in business or accounting.
“It’s been a goal to play in college since I was little,” she said. “As soon as I started playing softball, I knew I wanted to play at the next level. I love softball. I’m really excited to play ball there.”
Here are a few of Caldwell’s favorite things, as well as her ideal groups with which to eat dinner and survive a zombie apocalypse and the five items she would take with her on a deserted island:
Favorite Movie: “The Notebook.”
Favorite TV Show: “Riverdale.”
Favorite Cartoon: “Tom and Jerry.”
Favorite Band/Artist: Post Malone.
Favorite Song: “God’s Plan” by Drake.
Favorite Book: Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan.
Favorite Team: Florida Gators.
Favorite Athlete: Monica Abbott.
Favorite Vacation: Going to the mountains.
Favorite Hobby: Softball.
Favorite Subject: Math.
Favorite Quote: “She believed she could, so she did.” – R.S. Grey.
Favorite Food: Mexican.
Favorite Drink: Diet Pepsi.
Favorite Restaurant: Plaza Mexico.
Favorite Season: Summer.
Favorite Sports Memory: Hitting a walk-off grand slam in travel ball.
Favorite Teacher: Ms. Lucille Melby.
Favorite Sport: Softball.
Favorite Pre-Game/Post-Game Ritual: Hanging out with my team.
Favorite Website/App: Snapchat.
Favorite Follow on Twitter/Instagram: Kylie Jenner.
Ideal Dinner Guest List: Kim Kardashian, Chase Chrisley, Scott Disick, Jimmy Fallon and Beverley Barnes.
Ideal Group To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse: Alyssa Hall for moral support, Makyiah Mitchell and Taylar Brown for bodyguards, Mollie Gould and Lauren Barnes for bait and coach Galen Newton for his handyman skills.
Items For A Deserted Island: Knife, lighter, fishing pole, tent and my phone.