“It’s just really surreal, but it’s just truly a really humbling experience.”
Braxton Burnside, an Arkansas native, in the place she always wanted to be, now has her name in the program record books.
“For my story to end here in Arkansas, and then for it to end like this with me breaking the single-season homerun record, it’s just absolutely crazy,” says Burnside.
On April 1st, the senior shortstop broke the record in game one of their three game series with Auburn.
It’s poetic justice for the Paragould, AR native who’s career has had some twists and turns.
Burnside wasn’t recruited by Arkansas out of high school despite being one of the best home run hitters in the state. She still landed at an SEC school, going to Missouri her freshman and sophomore years.
It was after her 2nd year when the Mizzou Head Coach and entire staff was fired after the post season. Burnside had a change of heart, and decided it would be best to transfer.
“I knew that if I had another go around at the recruiting process, and Arkansas wanted me and I wanted Arkansas, then it was meant to be. And after we took our official visit, I told coach Deifel, I was like, ‘this is my home. This is where I want to be. I want to play for Arkansas Softball.'”
She was welcomed with open arms, but had to sit out a year in 2019. Then in 2020 Covid abruptly ended the season after 20 games.
“I’m not playing for just for myself, I’m playing for my family that put so much hard work and effort for me just to be on this stage right now. And I’m playing for all the little girls that, you know, I was in their shoes once and that they’re able to look up to someone like me with an Arkansas jersey on being from Arkansas and know one day they can also be doing this.
The 2021 season is her time to shine (and hit more home runs), but even though she’s the one setting the record, she hopes her name isn’t always at the top.
“I can only hope that one day somebody does break it, because that just means that the program is continuing to go forward,” adds Burnside.