Douglas County’s Brittany Puzey thrived on competition
RENO — Douglas County’s Brittany Puzey had something to prove after her senior year of high school.
A broken thumb suffered in March 2005 sidelined the Minden teen for most of her senior year on the Tigers’ softball team, but once she recovered and played at the next level, very few opponents could stop her.
During her final three years on the Wolf Pack softball team, Puzey received numerous accolades by helping Nevada become one of the top programs on the West Coast and for leading the Silver and Blue to a record 44 wins in 2008, which included an undefeated mark at home and a national ranking as high as 17th.
The Nevada Athletics Hall of Fame inducted an all-female class Thursday at its annual dinner to recognize nine athletes during halftime of Saturday’s football game in celebrating a centennial of offering women’s sports. Nevada joined the National Women’s Athletic Association in 1919.
“We wanted to celebrate the anniversary because we felt it was important for our women and all the achievements they had,” said Rhonda Lundin Bennett, Nevada’s senior associate athletics director/senior woman administrator.
It was both a rewarding and emotional night for Puzey and the other athletes who excelled in a number of sports to include rifle, volleyball, basketball and softball. Their involvement in women’s sports at the university spanned over four decades from the mid-1970s to 2009. Puzey said the competitiveness among athletes in Northern Nevada sports pushed her to become a better ball player at the collegiate level.
“When I started playing, softball was picking up in Northern Nevada and becoming more competitive,” she said. “It started to become a top sport and effective tool to push me into a competitive player.”
Puzey described herself as competitive by nature.
Any team could defeat the other on a given day. Not only was Douglas High School a powerhouse, but a half-dozen teams including Churchill County had elevated their programs in the Northern 4A.
Puzey’s competitiveness started at an early age with youth softball. Her 14-and-under team, the Comets, competed at the ASA National Championships before it was eliminated. Yet, she and her dad Jim, a Wolf Pack baseball player in the 1980s and a Nevada Athletics Hall of Fame inductee in 2016, teamed up with the 16-and-under Comets to win the ASA Super World Series. The Douglas teen won the 9-4 championship game by pitching a nine hitter, hitting a double and driving in a run.
At Douglas High School, Brittany Puzey competed in two sports, excelling in both basketball and softball. During her junior year, she and Erin Brinkmeyer each scored more than 300 points. She was also the Sierra League Player of the Year in softball. During her senior year, she averaged 15.3 points per game to lead the Tigers to a 22-7 record.
Pack Edge magazine named her the Pack Edge Way-to-Go female athlete of the year for her play in basketball and softball in 2005.
“There were a number of things that really stuck out about Brittany,” Pack Edge publisher Ken Moen said after her selection. “Her strength as a student, the fact that she is very community-oriented and that she is a very talented athlete in multiple sports.
“She was just head and shoulders above the rest of the candidates this year.”
Puzey’s career took off at Nevada. She led the Western Athletic Conference with 39 RBIs in 2006, including six in a win against the University of California at Riverside. She started in 64 games and ended the season with a .264 batting average, 51 hits and 22 runs. For the Nevada sophomore, 2007 was her breakout year. She led the Wolf Pack in slugging percentage (.65), total bases (13), RBIs (52), runs scored (33), doubles (18) and home runs (13), and her .329 batting average was third best. She earned All-West Region second team honors, the first player in Nevada softball history to be named to the team.
Puzey earned first-team All-West Region in 2009 and was a three-time Academic All-WAC selection. She also helped lead Nevada to regular-season WAC championships and NCAA Regional appearances in 2008 and 2009. She showed power at the plate by hitting the first home run in the history of Hixson Park in the inaugural game at the field in March 2007, and Puzey also had the first grand slam homer at Hixson Park the following month.
“She’s very competitive at that plate,” Nevada coach Michelle Gardner said in an April 2008 interview with the Nevada Appeal. “She has always been that way. I don’t know that her numbers are as good as in the past. Sometimes hitters go through lulls. She really competes up there at the plate. She is getting stronger every weekend. She is more confident.”
Although her collegiate career ended a decade ago, Puzey said she remains close friends with former teammate and Churchill County High School graduate Michelle Beach.
“We’re part of the biggest sisterhood,” Puzey said with a smile after here induction. “Our connection is very strong.”
Additionally, Puzey, who is a deputy district attorney for Washoe County, is also a mother to three young children, one of whom is a few months older than Beach’s baby.
During Thursday’s dinner when the athletes discussed their experiences at Nevada, Bennett said she was impressed with their stories. She described the stories as inspirational, and each tale told of a journey each women traveled to play in athletics.
Bennett said this year’s Hall of Fame inductions will be long remembered, not only for the women but also for Nevada and the many communities each inductee represents.
Bennett also said the university reconnected with many women who played at the university for the past four decades.
“We were able to bring back so many people,” she said.