Eugene native to call Oregon Women's College World Series game
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - On Saturday night, Eugene-native Lauren Burke and the Oregon Ducks softball team will look to stay alive in the Women's College World Series.
However, Burke is not the only Eugene product you'll be seeing on national television throughout the evening.
Fans watching from home should keep their eyes, and their ears, open for another Marist Catholic graduate, Kayla Braud. Braud was once a softball standout with the Spartans, and a collegiate All-American at Alabama University.
Now, she works with ESPN, serving on the broadcast as a softball analyst.
From state champion to national champion, to ESPN analyst, Braud has made her mark on the college softball landscape.
Now, she sits side-by-side with Molly McGrath, breaking down the Women's College World Series games in Oklahoma City for ESPN. But her softball journey began in Eugene, at Marist High School.
Braud made a name for herself quickly, recording a hit in 103 consecutive games, which would become a national record. In 2009, she helped lead the Spartans to a national championship.
"It was awesome, I was super lucky," said Braud. "I got to live out the legacy. My cousins had won a state championship at Marist before, and I remember watching that as a kid. It was so cool just to be the last team standing on the field."
Braud would again be part of a team that was the last one standing on the field. This time, the setting was in Oklahoma City, when her and the Alabama Crimson Tide clinched their first softball national championship in school history.
"It was an incredible experience," said Braud. "Sometimes when I come back here, I get kind of emotional because it was one of the most incredible experiences of my entire life. There's no greater feeling than lifting a championship trophy over your head."
Now, when Braud returns to Asa Hall of Fame Stadium, it's not as a player, but as an analyst. The new job has been a dream, but it's not one she thought would ever be a reality.
"I didn't think I would be on camera," said Braud. "You can ask some of my friends from high school; I was pretty shy, and now here I am on ESPN. I have to pinch myself sometimes because I just get to talk about softball."
When she's not on set, she's back in Eugene, leaving an impact as an assistant coach with her alma mater.
"I love coaching, and I love teaching," said Braud. "I think it's important that they can see someone who took softball and made a career out of it. I get to talk about softball beyond that -- it's really fun."
Braud committed to Alabama the year before Mike White took over as the head coach of the Oregon program, but as you might have guessed, they know each other quite well.
She also coached Oregon true freshman Lauren Burke, who is a fellow Marist High graduate. Braud says that watching her succeed is fulfilling because "it shows how much our sport's grown and how much it's growing in our state."