PREP BASEBALL

Griffith's spark plug is junior with quick intentions

2012-05-30T20:00:00Z 2012-05-31T03:50:05Z Griffith's spark plug is junior with quick intentionsBy Hillary Smith hillary.smith@nwi.com, (219) 933-3233 nwitimes.com

GRIFFITH | When Brett Brinkley was little, he was the kid his parents couldn't keep in the house.

Running around the neighborhood, finding his way outside, that's exactly where the youngest child of three — and only boy — wanted to be.

"I don't like to sit; I like to do stuff and be active," Brinkley said.

That perpetual-motion mentality is what makes him the perfect lead-off hitter for Griffith baseball. His calm demeanor keeps his team grounded, his coach said.

"He has been the shot of energy we need at the top of the order this year," coach Brian Jennings said. "He's been a leader for us, emotionally, verbally and through his actions, and he's really solidified the lead-off spot for us that gives us a guy who is going to get on base and, if he has a chance, he's going to score."

The Panthers meet Andrean at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Class 3A Plymouth Regional. It'll be the third time this season the teams have met, with Andrean winning both of the first two.

Brinkley was tabbed to bat first in the lineup as a freshman. He took the assignment with aplomb, not letting anyone know if it made him nervous.

A football player, Brinkley played baseball because his natural speed was suited for the outfield. It wasn't until this offseason that he started taking hitting lessons.

"He's developed into a baseball player instead of just a kid who plays baseball," Jennings said. "He understands concepts offensively, he understands approaches, he's cleaned up his swing and shortened his swing."

Comfortable in his spot, Brinkley likes to use that speed to his ability. He is 23-for-26 in steals this season, putting pressure on pitchers and defenses as early as possible.

"One of my coaches used to tell me that I was the spark plug," Brinkley said. "I had to get everything started."

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