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Perrysburg's Pratt turns late start into college scholarship

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    Perrysburg pitcher Bri Pratt cheers on her teammates during a softball game against Anthony Wayne on May 8. After a late start in high-level softball, Pratt has earned a scholarship to Miami University.

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    Perrysburg pitcher Bri Pratt throws against NLL rival Anthony Wayne.

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    Perrysburg pitcher Bri Pratt waits on deck as teammate Emma Pantenburg sports a rally cap during a softball game against Anthony Wayne.

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Bri Pratt may have gotten what she considered “a late start” on her college recruiting process, but Perrysburg’s senior softball pitching ace didn’t need much time to attract attention to her talents and decide on a school.

Pratt, who didn’t get that ball rolling until her sophomore season with the Yellow Jackets, accepted a scholarship offer from Miami (Ohio) University the summer before her junior year at Perrysburg.

“I originally didn’t know that I wanted to play in college, so I kind of got a late start,” Pratt said. “Most people started like in eighth grade or freshman year to go play at the big colleges.

“I got a later start as a sophomore. I started off by going to camps and emailing a lot of coaches. I got a skills video done. In the winter it was all the camps and everything. By the end, I was really excited to commit and get everything settled and worked out.”

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Pratt will pitch for the RedHawks on a full scholarship, and she is being projected as a possible No. 1 starter. The 5-foot-10 right-hander has a 63-mph fastball and also includes a dropball, riseball, and a highly effective change-up in her arsenal.

VIDEO: Bri Pratt talks about the recruiting process

Most college softball and baseball programs parcel out their scholarship money in percentages, usually under 50 percent, to their recruits. But top softball pitchers can typically garner higher scholarship percentages because of their impact on games and ability to pitch more often than a baseball hurler.

Pratt has thrived in the circle, as evidenced by her first-team All-Ohio honors in Division I in 2017 and 2018. As a junior, she helped the Yellow Jackets to a 22-3 record and a first-place finish in the Northern Lakes League, posting a 17-3 record, 0.78 earned-run average, and 195 strikeouts in 135 innings. She also batted .469.

This season she was downright stingy in leading second-ranked Perrysburg (30-3, 14-0 NLL) to a league title and a state final-four appearance in Division I. She was 24-1 with 253 strikeouts in 157⅓ innings, allowing just 68 hits and 16 runs (11 earned) for a microscopic 0.49 ERA. She also batted .458 (44 for 96) with three home runs and a team-high 36 runs batted in.

“Originally, I didn’t know how I’d be able to handle going to school, and playing softball, and having a job and all that it entailed,” Pratt said. “I wasn’t really educated on it.

“But I loved playing softball, and I was interested in playing another four years and in going to a great school, which was even better.”

Why Miami?

“It just felt like the best fit as soon as I got on the campus,” Pratt said. “I felt comfortable, and it’s just a really beautiful campus. I primarily wanted to put the education first because, ultimately, in the end, I’m not going to be playing softball for the rest of my life. I wanted to make sure to go to a school where I could get a great education as well.

“I did a couple other visits, and they weren’t like Miami, where the minute I stepped on the campus, I felt like it was the right fit. I felt like I was at home.”

In her four-year varsity career, Pratt was 67-13 in the circle with an 0.95 ERA and 749 strikeouts in 537⅓ innings. She was also named second-team All-Ohio as a sophomore in 2016.

“When she came in as a freshman, we knew she was going to get pitching time as a freshman, and we knew that she was going to be good,” Perrysburg coach Ryan DeMars said. “We didn’t necessarily know how good. We got a very early lesson on how good she was going to be when she pitched us to a victory over Springfield, who at the time was undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the state. Their only other loss that year was later against the eventual state champs in the state semifinals.

“That sort of cemented Bri on the high school stage and what she was going to be capable of doing. Her pitching has been outstanding, but more than that her leadership, and her personality, and what she does in bringing people together in a family atmosphere. She has set a great example with her work ethic and her attitude, and that has been tremendous and has been a huge part of the program’s success.”

Pratt has somewhat mixed emotions as she wraps up her high school days and prepares to transition to college.

“It’s mostly excitement,” she said. “Obviously I’m going to miss my family and friends and my team back here, but I’m pretty excited to get down there.

“I’ve lived in Perrysburg my whole life, so it’s going to be something different for me, but it’s something I’m ready to take on. I’m getting ready to get thrown into a setting where they’re going to be expecting a lot from me.”

Contact Steve Junga at sjunga@theblade.com419-724-6461, or on Twitter @JungaBlade.

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