May 30, 2010 12:27:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- For one of Mississippi State''s most decorated student-athletes, winding down is a delicate process.
A three-time first-team All-American who is sure to earn her fourth selection this week, Chelsea Bramlett has used the last three weeks to decelerate her mind and body after completing her senior season.
Her performance this season was typical Bramlett; who led the Southeastern Conference in steals and batting average en route to another hoard of awards and honors.
Mississippi State, however, struggled through a stretch of one-run losses and diminishing form before missing out on the SEC and NCAA tournaments.
Now that her collegiate career has come to an end, Bramlett has her sights set on playing for the United States National Team that begins training camp in Ohio on June 13.
But for now, she''s enjoying the off-time.
"Always, even when I was in college, after the season I would take a week off or so following the season," Bramlett said. "No lifting. No running. I wouldn''t even touch a ball. I''ve just been trying to relax and let my body relax for a little while. It''s been real nice, honestly."
Training for the United State team, which will take her across the world for the World Championships in Venezuela, the World Cup in Oklahoma City and the Japan Cup, means her down time won''t last long.
Even without preparations for training, Bramlett finds herself focusing on keeping her mind off the game.
"It works for a few days not thinking about ball, but I''m so used to doing it every day or at least four or five days a week that after a couple days it gets hard," Bramlett said. "I get to thinking about going and hitting or throwing. It''s hard to keep my mind off it for a week, but I do the best I can."
Bramlett is enjoying working out on her own because she gets to train at her own pace and include her own drills and lifts.
After leading the nation in steals and finishing second in batting average, Bramlett is a finalist for USA Player of the Year.
She also could become the program''s first four-time first-time All-American.
She takes all of the acclaim into international duty, where she got her feet wet last year as deputy catcher to Lauren Lappin. She had the advantage of breaking into the squad under college head coach Jay Miller, who will again coach the national team through its upcoming tournaments.
Bramlett is uncertain of playing in the National Pro Fastpitch league with international duty approaching, but she said she may re-visit the option next year.
Used to being on the field for every pitcher, the now former Lady Bulldogs catcher admits her chances of supplanting Lappin as Miller''s first-choice catcher will be difficult.
"Lappin is the main catcher and she''s got the experience," Bramlett said. "It''s definitely hard trying to come in as a rookie and really start at any position. Especially catching, when she''s been with Cat (Osterman) and (Jennie) Finch and all of them. so it''s definitely kind of hard. It''ll come along with every year I''m there and the more experience I get.
"You got to just wait your turn and bide your time."
Bramlett missed out on the NCAA tournament for the first time in career this season and it''s the upcoming announcement of All-Americans that has her excited to fill the void of her final year in maroon and white ending prematurely.
She came to Mississippi State, she had four All-Americans in an eight-year span to fashion herself after.
As a prep player, Bramlett recalls watching Iyhia McMichael provide an unmatched blend of home run power, speed and efficiency for the Lady Bulldogs.
"She was unstoppable," Bramlett said. "Never did I think I would be considered one of the best like she is. It''s kind of surprising, to be honest. You come out of high school and summer ball and you''re considered good, but it always seems like when players hit the next level they''re not as good as they were.
"To be in this group of MSU players as an all-american is an honor."
Of all Bramlett''s awards and accolades, she views All-American status as the most important on her mantle. The nation-wide status has been her goal since she made the first-team as a freshman.
"A lot of the other awards vary depending on if you go to the SEC tournament or regionals, but all-American has been my goal every year," Bramlett said. "To get it this year and become a four-time, first-team all-American would be great. If those were the only four awards I got my entire career, I''d be happy."