Former Sun Valley softball star Brittany Pickett earned an invite to compete at the 2022 USA Softball National Team Selection Trials, which were held from Jan. 1-6 at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, Fla.

Pickett was one of 45 players invited to the trials. She only competed one day while dealing with an injury, but she’ll still have a chance to be selected for the 18-player roster for the 2022 World Games, which take place in Birmingham, Ala.

Pickett had a stellar career at Sun Valley, where she went 51-16 over three seasons as a pitcher, leading the Spartans to a 25-5 record and the school’s only softball state title back in 2014. After graduating from Sun Valley in 2016, Pickett played five seasons for the UNC softball team.

During her time at UNC, Pickett was named All-ACC three times and graduated as the Tar Heels’ career leader in saves (13). Across five seasons, she went 83-48 with a 2.35 ERA across 898 innings pitched.

Pickett spoke with The Enquirer-Journal on Friday about her experience at the trials and what she’s been doing since she graduated.

Question: What did it mean to you to be selected for the trial and to compete with some of the country’s other top players?

Answer: It was definitely an experience, for sure. Just being alongside all these great athletes and realizing you’re among the select few ... They say you’re in the top 1% in college, but to make it somewhere professionally or to have the chance to compete somewhere professionally, that’s an even smaller chance. I think that says a lot. I’m proud of myself for making it and being chosen, but I think the game of softball is growing in general, and I think there are a lot more opportunities for women nowadays. I think just being there, the game doesn’t change. You’re just with a bunch of great athletes.

Question: You spent five years at UNC before graduating in 2021. What was your college experience like and how do you feel it helped you grow?

Answer: After this past year ended, I had a lot of time to reflect and learn who I am as a person not playing the sport. I wouldn’t be able to do some of these things or interact with some of these people if I didn’t have the chance to play in college. It’s taught me so many different things off and on the field, especially how to work hard. If you want something, it’s not going to be given to you. You have to work for it in all aspects of life, whether it’s school or a job or something you want in general ... Coach Papa at UNC had a huge impact on me and the things I value. She’s just been really good to me and my family. It’s a family environment. You always feel home when you step back on campus.

Question: What sort of things have you been doing since you graduated outside of playing?

Answer: I’ve been giving a lot of lessons. I’m a softball instructor at a facility giving instructions and trying to make it full time. I’m also in nursing school. I am studying to become a RN and eventually go back to school after that to get my masters and stuff. The end goal is to be a nurse practitioner. Right now, that’s what I’m doing. Just trying to navigate life not being an athlete and trying to find ways to do that. I’m at the Carolinas College of Health Sciences in Charlotte.

Question: Not a lot of softball players from the county have been able to make it to the collegiate level or have success once they get there. What advice would you give to softball players around Union County who have a dream of playing in college?

Answer: It’s so different nowadays with the resources a lot of girls have. I feel like I’ve been self-made. I didn’t have some of these resources, like going to get lessons every week or going to camps every weekend. If you truly want it, you have to find it within yourself. What are you doing on your own when no one is watching? Your parents can only push you so much. It’s definitely a grind. You play for 20 years and then all of a sudden, it’s over. But the opportunity and what you do with the opportunity says a lot. Use your resources. You don’t have to go on social media and post your stats and stuff like that. You can still go to camps and email college coaches and show up to tournaments and be the best one out there without going to social media like they do nowadays. I understand that it’s a generational thing, but it’s important to first find it in yourself and then use your resources.

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