Kenzie Bruggeman taking team-first mindset to Assumption

Kenzie Bruggeman will join Assumption coach Jon Ladino's Greyhounds in the Division II Northeast-10 Conference.

Kenzie Bruggeman will join Assumption coach Jon Ladino’s Greyhounds in the Division II Northeast-10 Conference.

Trumbull Athletics / Contributed photo

Kenzie Bruggeman was an All-State infielder when she took the short walk from third base to the pitching circle for her senior softball season at Trumbull High.

Bruggeman pitched her team into the Class L state semifinals.

“I’m an infielder at heart,” said Bruggeman who will play a corner infield position at Assumption University. “Pitching isn’t my first choice. I love playing the infield. It’s so much fun. Making the plays at third, the reaction time needed, it’s my favorite position to play.”

Bruggeman batted .500 with 21 RBIs. 9 home runs and 24 runs scored. Of her 36 hits, 14 went for extra bases.

“Hitting is my favorite part of playing softball,” Bruggeman said. “When I’m hitting, I tell myself to have fun. I try to stay loose at the plate.”

Making the switch to pitcher wasn’t a surprise.

“Emily Gell was established as a pitcher my freshman year. I played third base,” she said. “I knew in the back of my head that when Emily left, I would need to pitch.”

Gell left without getting to play her senior season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was Bruggeman’s turn. A veteran team set to take the field in 2020 was now a young and inexperienced squad in 2021. Bruggeman and Radford College-bound Cassi Barbato were the two links. They had helped Trumbull make the state finals as freshmen, semifinals as sophomores.

“Me and Cassi knew we had to step up and lead,” Bruggeman said. “On the mound I’m able to keep my composure. I’m mainly an infielder. I know players make mistakes. No one is perfect during a game. I had to keep reminding myself how young our team was. We had four returning starters. Two of us weren’t playing the same position.”

Bruggeman credits coach Jacqui Sheftz for Trumbull’s ability to stay focused.

“Coach Sheftz is tough on players in a good way. She prepares of us for winning,” Bruggeman said. “It is truly a team sport at Trumbull. We don’t believe in I or me at all. To play, you have to be a team player.

“When we lost, Coach didn’t tell us we did a great job, or that we’d get them next time. It was that we need to work on this, this, and this to win the next game. There was accountability from the seniors on down.”

That team first mentality was ingrained in Bruggeman by her mom Danielle and brother Kevin.

“I’ve looked up to my mom my entire life,” she said of the former University of Hartford star and now successful coach at FCIAC rival New Canaan. “I saw how much talent she has. She taught me everything I know. She was a dual threat pitching and hitting.

“Mom and Kevin are my role models. Kevin and I have always been super close. We played same sport. He’s good at it. I looked up to him,” she said of the former Trumbull All-State catcher now playing at Hofstra University.

The recruiting process wasn’t easy.

“There were a lot of ups and downs with it because of the lost season,” she said. “I had thought about Assumption. I sent them an email. They came to see me play. I went for a tour. It was fast, a matter of a month before they offered. It was pretty cool.”

Bruggeman signed last November. She leaves for school on Aug. 27.

“I committed to play corner infield, either first or third,” Bruggeman said of joining coach Jon Ladino’s Greyhounds who play in the Division II Northeast-10 Conference. “They went 16-10 and made it to the conference semifinals.”

Bruggeman’s chosen field of study was easy.

“I’ll study special education and behavioral analysis,” said Bruggeman who baby sat for special needs children. “My mom is a special education teacher. I knew it was something I wanted to do.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354