FORT WAYNE — Stealing bases takes quickness and solid technique. It takes much more to swipe an outrageous number of bags when everybody at a ball field knows it’s coming.
East Noble graduate Brianna Glass had the attitude and understanding of the game along with the speed to set a new NAIA softball single-season record for stolen bases in her junior season at Indiana Tech.
“A lot of confidence,” Glass said. “If I tell myself I’m not going to make it, I won’t.
“The first step is huge. If you hesitate or stagger a step, you’ll be out,” she added. “But I worked at the game, and had a different perspective to make that comeback, and that was my motivation.”
Healthy this past season after being limited in her sophomore campaign by a broken hand, Glass set the new mark in the top of the fifth inning of her last game of the season as she swiped second base for her 81st steal against Siena Heights, Michigan, in a semifinal game of the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Tournament on May 6 at Pacesetter Park in Sylvania, Ohio. The Saints defeated the Warriors 5-3 to end Indiana Tech’s season at 24-25.
“It got emotional,” Glass said of the postgame after the record-setting steal. “I was crying. Dad (Corey) was crying.”
Glass had three stolen bases in Tech’s 6-3 first-round victory in nine innings over Lawrence Tech, Michigan, earlier in the afternoon on May 6 to tie the old NAIA record of 80 set by Britney Webb of Belhaven, Mississippi, in 2010.
Glass nearly doubled the old WHAC record of 41 set by Lyndsay Szczepanke from Aquinas, Michigan, in 2000.
Glass stole no more than four bases in a game in the spring. She stole four bases apiece in eight different games to tie the single-game conference record.
Glass stole the 81 bases in 89 attempts and helped the Warriors tie for fifth in the NAIA nation in stolen bases as a team with Corban, Oregon, at 132.
Concordia, Michigan, was the only team to throw out Glass twice attempting to steal, doing that in the first game of a doubleheader in Ann Arbor on April 10. Lawrence Tech, Michigan-Dearborn, Aquinas, Taylor, Madonna, Michigan; and St. Ambrose, Iowa, each threw out Glass once.
The talk of records started circulating around the Glass household after she reached 62 with a stolen base in each game of an Indiana Tech doubleheader sweep at Michigan-Dearborn on April 17.
“I overheard my dad and my twin brother (Josh) talking about it,” said Brianna, who split time on the field between shortstop and third base. “I didn’t want to get that in my head.”
What made the national stolen bases record possible for Glass was a breakout season with the bat. She had her best offensive season as a Warrior, hitting .456 (73-160) to finish third in the WHAC. The Kendallville resident also had a .503 on-base percentage with the help of 15 walks and being hit by two pitches.
Glass bats right-handed and is more of a conventional hitter, though she bunted a decent amount. She adjusted better to faster pitching at the college level, and she thought she started to turn the corner hitting at the beginning of her sophomore season in 2018.
“My dad just told me to shorten up my swing and away I went,” Glass said. “I hit well on spring break in Florida (this season). Whenever I have a bad game, I practice on my own.”
Glass also had seven doubles and two triples and scored 57 runs, which was second in the WHAC and tied for 27th in the NAIA country. She hit .293 as a sophomore while only playing in 31 of Tech’s 49 games. She only had 11 stolen bases and wasn’t thrown out.
Glass led a 4-38-1 Warrior team in batting average (.365), hits (35), stolen bases (29), runs (26) and walks (10) in her freshman season of 2017. She started 33 of the 40 games she played in.
Glass credited Tech’s No. 2 hitter Ali Lenoue for giving her opportunities to steal bases by how Lenoue stood at the plate within the rules. Glass also read opposing pitchers and game situations well to accumulate the record amount of stolen bases.
She picked spots when pitchers threw off-speed pitches, and was determined to get to the next base even when a pitchout was called. It all added up to 81, and games where you would think she would run wild did not fit her best. Anticipating potential big games would get in her head too much.
“I play better when I’m relaxed and play better against the harder teams,” Glass said.
Glass will try to go after her stolen base record next year and believes she can do that on an Indiana Tech squad that is getting better. After winning four games and tying another in 2017, the Warriors won 15 games last year and 24 games in 2019.
The Warriors’ new softball stadium with a field that is all artificial turf in its Warrior Park athletic complex has brought added excitement to the program. The first games were played in the new digs on March 21.
“Five or six of us have been playing together for awhile, and that is huge in getting us better,” said Glass, who also has support from her mother Mindy, older sister Tayler Best, and younger brother Joel Glass. “We’re a team that can bring in runs. We have to work on the little things and can’t settle.”
On pursuing her record, Brianna said, “I’ll try to keep my focus and give it 100 percent. But I’ll be going after it.”
Other former East Noble Knights at Indiana Tech
East Noble graduates Kirsten Wolf and Taylor Cripe were also part of the Warrior softball team.
Wolf appeared in 23 games in her sophomore season and made 20 pitching appearances, including seven starts. She was 0-5 with a 6.34 earned run average and two saves. She allowed 74 hits, struck out 17 and walked 12 in 38 and two-thirds innings.
Both Wolf and Cripe had a limited amount of at-bats. Wolf was 0-for-5 with two runs as a pinch-runner. Cripe appeared in seven games as a freshman and was 0-for-4 with a walk.