Bre Fleschner knew she could hit the ball. She never thought of herself as just a slapper.
Less than two months into her freshman year at Missouri Western, her team and coaches know that, too.
Joining a veteran Western squad that is currently ranked in the NFCA top-25 poll, the added pressure of playing with such an experienced group didn’t faze the St. Charles native. She embraced it.
“Honestly, I really didn’t expect I’d play that much,” Fleschner said. “I was just gonna wait back and see how the older juniors go. It feels amazing because I knew I could hit like that. It just took me forever to show it, so I’m glad I finally did.”
The left-fielder quickly adapted to the team. After splitting time as a starter throughout the first 20 games, Fleschner took over the position. She is hitting second on the team with a .383 average.
In one of her first games as a starter, Western took on Missouri-St. Louis. Though the Griffons suffered a 12-11 defeat, Fleschner went 3-for-3 at bat with three RBIs. Performances like that impressed her coach.
“In the fall is the first time I was like ‘oh,’ I guess this little peanut has a little more pop,” Jen Bagley said. “And recruiting her I saw that, but you never know how they adjust to pitching at this level. But her ability to be consistent is what I was questioning.”
Just like that, the outfielder found her swing and could be counted on. She has not only impressed Bagley, but also veteran players that stand before her.
Maegan Roemmich, currently hitting first on the team with a .392 average, said Fleschner is doing really well.
“We didn’t know if she was a slapper or a hitter,” Roemmich said. “But she can hit the ball out there, hits for power and can slap and gets her bunts down.”
Fleschner sits right behind Roemmich and bats second in the lineup behind lead-off hitter Kendall Sorensen. She has started 17 out of the 21 games she has played in. The five-foot-three starter has four doubles and nine RBIs as of now.
Still, Fleschner said she might not even be at Western if it wasn’t for a change she made after her freshman year of high school. She switched hitting stances.
“I switched about my sophomore year of high school,” Fleschner said. “One of my friends I used to play with brought me to her hitting coach and turned me around right away. And then that next summer, I started hitting left.
“I probably don’t even think I’d be playing college if I wasn’t hitting left-handed. Or not even D-II for that.”
The southpaw slugger joins a group of leftys — senior Blair Stalder and junior Kim Robinson — as players that throw right but hit left. Bagley understands the importance of having Fleschner in the lineup because of that.
“In her speed and what’s she able to do at the plate, it gives us another layer of something different in the lineup,” Bagley said. “It gives us another lefty so that’s good.”
Fleschner is now stable having played multiple games as a Griffon — including six at Griffon Spring Sports Complex. Playing at home helped her prove once again that, despite her size, she can hit.
She blasted a homer March 17 against Truman State—the first of her young career.
“It’s one of those deals where, hey lets give her a couple hacks and she kept producing and another game came by and, let’s give her a chance and she produced,” Bagley said. “So then after a while you’re thinking, ‘well why not,’ and she’s been doing great.”
Fleschner gives the Griffons a freshman that has provided a spark for the second year in a row. In 2011, it was pitcher Jackie Bishop that Western would strike gold with. Now, with the defense in good hands, the offense has help.
On a talented upperclassmen group, the freshman is fitting right in. Though she doesn’t make up for the loss of home run sluggers Brittany Douglas (15 homers) and Toni Dance (13) Western saw in 2011, perhaps she’ll help the Griffons secure the MIAA conference title or a regional championship for the first time.
If nothing else, she definitely isn’t thought of as just a slapper anymore.