CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Senior Briana Gwaltney has been on a mission to be the best since she stepped foot on the campus of Charlotte back in 2009, and when it comes to her success on the softball field, two words can describe her quest-mission accomplished.

The Anaheim Hills, Calif. native traveled nearly 2,398 miles, leaving her family and friends, to become a sensational student-athlete for the 49er softball program.

“Originally I was only looking at schools in California but Charlotte showed interest and I took a visit in the fall and it was picture perfect,” Gwaltney explained. “The trees were orange and red and it was such a beautiful place to me. I really liked the team and the coaches. It just fit. I knew when I got to campus this was where I was supposed to be.”

Gwaltney immediately made an impact for the Niners in her first season, and the four-year starter has continued to be an asset to the team.

She recognized her talent, which was what got her to Charlotte in the first place but never imagined that she’d be such a contribution for the Niners. Along with her impeccable swing and with the help of others, she’d soon begin to realize just how much talent she truly had.

“I’ll never forget my freshman year when Coach Painter pulled me aside after I was going through a rough spell at the plate and told me that I was going to break her record,” Gwaltney said. “Hearing that as a freshman it was kind of intimidating but at the same time it motivated me. Knowing that she and Coach DeVos had that kind of confidence in me at such an early age got me through my drought then and it still keeps me going now.”

The hard work and words of encouragement paid off and it was her junior season where she began re-writing the Charlotte record book. In 2012 she set the single season (14) and career record (28) for home runs, which was previously held by Tenaya Tucker and Kristi Killough (Painter). Gwaltney amassed numerous honors, awards, and accolades for her breakout season but she didn’t quit there.

This season, she continues to be Charlotte’s offensive leader who recently set the school record for career runs batted in with 135, surpassing the previous mark of 126 set by Serena Smith in 2010. Gwaltney’s 109 career runs along with her 180 career hits are tied fourth and seventh respectively in the Charlotte batting records. She also has hit 30 doubles in her career which is sixth in the Charlotte records.

Gwaltney’s simple answer to her success – it’s mental. Before she even reaches the plate, she’s already started her routine, like most baseball and softball players do. She normally eats a piece of candy or chews gum to get her mind ready. If she finds that she hits well while chewing a certain flavor or type of candy, that’s what she sticks to. Her mentality when she steps to the plate is to overpower the pitcher. She takes a stern, long glare in her opponent’s eyes, never looks back, and sees nothing but the ball after that.

Her team-leading .413 batting average this season is one of the reasons that Charlotte is hitting .329 as a team, which is ranked 14th in the nation. Her performance in her final season as a 49er has been nothing less than spectacular as she continues to close out her career with a bang.

“It reassures me that every decision I’ve made up to this point has been the right one,” said Gwaltney about her career. “Everything that I’ve done has been worth something and for something. It takes a lot of pressure off me because I’ve made my mark here and I know that I’m going to continue to contribute to my team. Hopefully for a couple of seasons, my name will still be in the records.”

When her career at Charlotte ends, Gwaltney will head to the Netherlands to play professionally for four months. After her tenure in the Netherlands, the exercise science major plans to attend grad school and hopes to coach one day.

But there’s still more work for Gwaltney to do with the 49ers. Charlotte will face North Carolina State University on Wednesday, April 3 for a non-conference doubleheader in Raleigh beginning at 4 p.m.

Charlotte vs. N.C. State Notes

-        The Wolfpack (15-16-1) own the all-time series, 14-11 over Charlotte (14-14).

-        The Niners split the series last season with N.C. State.

-        Charlotte won game 1, 5-1. Samantha Slade hit a grand slam to propel the Niners to a   victory.

-        N.C. State won game 2, 9-7. Gwaltney hit her ninth homer of the season, a grand slam to lead Charlotte with four RBIs. Alex Rogers finished with a team-high three hits.   

-        Freshman Jessica Plemmons ranks third in the nation in doubles per game (0.44)

-        N.C. State’s Renada Davis is tied second in the country in home runs (14).