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Softball slugger Kristen Brown making a nickname for herself at North Carolina

MacArthur's Kristen Brown hits a home run in

MacArthur's Kristen Brown hits a home run in the Long Island Class AA softball final against East Islip on June 5, 2012. Credit: James Escher

In North Carolina, she's known as "Downtown Kristen Brown."

"It sounds really cool, it rhymes well, and it kind of works," Kristen Brown said. "I get excited when I hear it."

Opposing pitchers certainly heard it quite a bit this past season. Brown, the former MacArthur softball star who was named Newsday's player of the year in 2012, broke the University of North Carolina's single-season home run record, going "downtown" 24 times. She also set the program's career home run record . . . as a junior!

She will enter her senior season with 47 career homers, having eclipsed the program record of 43 in April.

"I set high goals for myself and it's crazy how much I motivate myself to achieve them," Brown said. "It ended up working in my favor."

Brown, a shortstop who hit third in the order, batted .362 and had an .853 slugging percentage. Her 24 homers tied for fifth in the nation in Division I, and her 67 RBIs were also a single-season program record. Those statistics earned her third-team All-American honors.

"I never could have guessed that I would one day be an All-American," Brown said. "To be able to represent my country as one of the best softball players is the most amazing accolade I could ever get."

Asked if she made any adjustments at the plate after her sophomore season, in which she hit .335 with 12 home runs, Brown said she simply stuck with what had worked for her throughout her softball career.

"I think I have a lot more swag than I did as a freshman and sophomore," she said. "When you first come in, you don't know what to expect. As you get older and more experienced, you start gaining more confidence and you think that nobody can beat you."

She didn't get beat often in high school, either. As a senior at MacArthur, Brown hit .583 with 16 home runs and 46 RBIs while leading the Generals to their first Long Island championship since 1988.

Her younger brother recently helped end another championship drought at MacArthur. Michael Brown was the starting leftfielder for the MacArthur baseball team, which last week won its first county championship since 1994.

"I couldn't be more proud of my brother," Kristen said of Michael, a three-sport athlete who is headed to the University of Florida for academics. "Everyone always said how hard it was going to be for him to follow in my shoes at MacArthur. But he did some things I've never done."

Now Kristen would like to help the Tar Heels do something they've never done. Having already had so much individual success, she was asked what her goals are for her final season.

"I'd like to leave a legacy on the program and take the team somewhere we have never been before as a program," she said. "And that's the Super Regionals."

The Tar Heels, who finished second in the ACC, lost in the regional semifinals in May, falling two wins shy of the Super Regionals. But Brown still has one more season to get there.

And one more season to add to her home run total, further separating herself from the pack in the record book.

"There have been such great players that have gone through Carolina softball," Brown said. "So being able to represent those girls at the top of the list is an honor."

When Brown was in high school, opposing teams respected (and feared) her power so much that they'd occasionally drop the second baseman into the outfield for her at-bats.

"I remember that," she said with a laugh. "They don't do that in college."

Maybe they should for "Downtown Kristen Brown."


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