- Associated Press - Monday, December 5, 2016

SPEARFISH, S.D. (AP) - Black Hills State University made history during the recent signing period by inking the first known set of triplets in NCAA women’s softball.

The three - Breanne, Bryce, and Brittany Henricksen from Las Vegas, Nevada - started playing T-ball at age 4 and moved up the ladder, the Black Hills Pioneer (https://bit.ly/2gvyWt5 ) reported. They will graduate from Arbor View High School before officially coming to the Yellow Jacket program.

All three have earned three letters apiece in the sport along with numerous all-division, all-regional, and all-state honors. Breanne is a pitcher, with Brittany playing the outfield and Bryce able to play several positions.

How did all of this come about?

Black Hills State head coach Lane Leedy said her assistant went to Las Vegas for a tournament.

Leedy received a call from her assistant saying, “Coach, you have to come see these girls,” Leedy said. “Oh, by the way: they’re triplets. They’re everything you’re looking for in this class.”

Leedy described Breanna as a control pitcher with an above-average changeup. Bryce can come in and start at any position except pitcher, according to Leedy.

“As with every recruit you have, you hope they contribute right away,” Leedy said of the Henricksens. She added Brittany can also play the catcher position, and all three can hit well.

Brittany competes well under pressure and is the kid who approaches the game with a calm confidence about her,” Leedy said in a release. “In the outfield, she combines her vast range with a very strong and accurate arm.”

The Henricksens first came to Spearfish in January and returned two weeks ago for the official visit. All three said the area and small-school environment appealed to them, and Bryce pointed to the weather.

“It was a lot different than Las Vegas,” Bryce said. “It was so green up there, and I felt like there’s a lot more things you can do up there (Black Hills) compared to Vegas.”

All three have really enjoyed playing together on teams.

“I think it’s pretty cool since we’ve started playing together,” Brittany said. “We’re also going to finish playing softball together. You also know someone always has your back as well.”

Breanne said of the sport, “To play it with my sisters all these years, it’s just really fun.”

The triple signing was not expected.

“It was really cool and surprising,” Bryce said of all three signing with Black Hills State. “Just to get four more years playing with them is cool.”

All three most look forward to entering the college environment, meeting new people, and gaining experience on the field.

The distance between Las Vegas and Spearfish poses the biggest challenge for the three. Breanne estimated the distance at 21 hours and said she would probably miss her family and pets initially.

“It can be hard, especially when they were there for all of us at our softball games,” Bryce said.

Getting used to the college game will pose a challenge for Brittany. “There’s going to be better players, bigger hitters, better pitchers,” she said.

What do they enjoy most about the sport?

“I like playing on the field in general,” Breanne said in describing the sport’s appeal to her. “It takes your mind off things.

Bryce most enjoys the memories she has made through the sport. She cited team experiences, on-the-field accomplishments, and the feeling that comes with a big victory.

“All my best friends, I’ve met through softball,” Brittany said when asked what she enjoys most. “You do travel a lot, and you meet a lot of new friends.”

Team success is what Brittany enjoys the most because it means hard work pays off in a game situation.

Breanne said the biggest challenge comes when things do not go her way. “If you’re having a bad day on the field, get over it, and things will get better,” she added.

The biggest challenge for Bryce and Brittany comes in putting bad days behind her and getting ready for the next day.

“I think it’ll be pretty good, but I think it’s going to be a lot different,” Bryce said of making the transition from high school softball to the college game. “We haven’t really played at that level, so I’m not really knowing what to expect.”

Brittany plans to study physical science at Black Hills State. Bryce will be an exercise science major, with Breanne set to major in business entrepreneurship.

What does it mean for Black Hills State to make history like this?

“Since I’ve gotten here, we’ve done some cool things, this being probably now at the top of the cool list,” Leedy said. “Making history is something you may get to do once or twice in your coaching career.”

Leedy said making history with solid players and kids is the way a person wants to make history. She added that prospect is second to getting three solid athletes.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in March that only a few sets of triplets have played for the same college team in a variety of sports. They competed for Pomona-Pitzer (Calif.) from 2011-14 and Division III Presentation College (Aberdeen) in the mid-2000s.

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Information from: Black Hills Pioneer, https://www.bhpioneer.com


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