PARAGOULD, Ark. (KAIT) - It was a homecoming of sorts as former Paragould star Braxton Burnside returned to the Natural State to continue her softball career.
“Now to kind of you know come back, and it all come full circle, and to represent my home state was really cool," Burnside said. So once I was handed that opportunity, there was no looking back."
After spending her first two seasons with Missouri, she had to sit out 2019 due to NCAA transfer rules. She said the time off really helped her. “I think it just kind of changed my perspective on the game a little bit, having to sit out last year. I think I was more just going out there and having fun and just trying to enjoy every moment.”
The transition to a new school also allowed for a friendship to form with fellow NEA native Keely Huffine. “We didn’t know each other very well, but we knew of each other for sure," Burnside said. “It’s pretty cool to be able to connect with her. Because you know me and her, really just from northeast Arkansas. There’s a couple other girls from other parts of Arkansas, but yea it’s pretty cool to be over here in small northeast Arkansas, playing on the same college team."
A starter from day one for the Razorbacks this season, she was 2nd on the team in average (.394) and RBIs (20), and tied for 2nd on the team in home runs (5). "I was able to slow down, work on my mechanics. And work on my mental game. So I think I was able to put that on the field this year."
With the season and her momentum cut short, the anticipation to complete a full season in Fayetteville is driving her motivation to get better. “Whenever I got home about a month ago, they said, I guess it’s just not meant to be for you to play in a Razorback uniform. And I’m like, you would think not! You know, I get there and have to sit out a year. Then finally I get to play and the season gets cut short because of everything going on. And so it’s crazy, but I think all of my excitement and anticipation to play is going to roll over into next year."