There's one thing you should know about Air Academy softball pitcher Brina Baysinger: She's not a rude person.
When someone is talking to her, she might not respond. And if she gets knocked to the ground after a hard play, she might not understand all the commotion. It might be because she's missing her "ears."
Baysinger was born deaf, but that's not a fact she shares often. Perhaps the only time someone figures it out is when she wears her hair up, revealing a set of cochlear implants.
Yes, she can hear everything. And no, she doesn't want special treatment.
On the Kadets softball team, she's treated like everyone else. And on Saturday, she'll be in the circle as Air Academy plays in the Class 4A Region 6 tournament at Garden Acres Community Park in Longmont.
The No. 27 Kadets face No. 6 Silver Creek (18-5) at 10 a.m.
As a sophomore pitcher, Baysinger has helped lead the Kadets (15-8) to their fifth winning record in six years. She owns a 10-6 record with a 4.68 ERA and 110 strikeouts. Her numbers come despite not pitching in six of Air Academy's games.
When she's in the circle, Baysinger is a presence. So far, she has produced four games with double-digit strikeouts, highlighted by the fact that she twice recorded a season-best 12.
Off the field, there's an everyday struggle.
"Just trying to prove to people that I'm not any different from what they are," Baysinger explained. "I'm the same as they are. I go to the same school, have the same teachers. I do some things differently but I'm exactly the same as they are."
In other words, she just wants to be another Kadet — though her numbers continue to grow and stand out. She plays with her older sister Brandy, a senior centerfielder and team captain. And when she isn't pitching, Brina Baysinger is one of the biggest cheerleaders in the dugout.
Baysinger has always shown compassion and care for others, her family said. Today, she volunteers with special needs children; recently, she made a trip with them to the zoo.
Her parents, Chuck and Sandy, knew early on their daughter was deaf. On her first birthday, Brina got her first set of cochlear implants — a small, complex electronic device that provides sound to someone who is deaf or hard-of-hearing. But even at that age, she learned to be patient. She had to first listen, and eventually she took speech therapy nearly every day to learn how to speak.
"It was three times a week, four times a week," she said. "It depended on how I was feeling."
She stuck with it. Now, she hears everything but it takes work and concentration. And her life would be that much harder if, say, her cochlear implants are knocked off during a play.
"Where are my ears? Where are my ears?" she'd say in the moment.
Life with cochlear implants has translated to softball, her family said. She started playing outfield at age 10. But her dad Chuck said that when she wasn't getting a lot of playing time, he had one piece of advice to her: Try pitching.
Eventually, she met pitching coach Terry Hoffman in Colorado Springs. He's been instrumental in her development but just not with softball. He wants her to succeed outside of the sport, too.
"Taught me everything I know," Brina Baysinger said. "I feel like I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for him."
After a full day going to classes and playing softball with her "ears" on, she'd find herself exhausted.
"I'm going to bed," she'd tell her family.
And it's not because she has a bad attitude. She just wants to sleep.
"If she's not responding to you, she's not a rude person," said her mom, Sandy. "It's not in her blood."