Sparta first baseman McKenzie Wilson is showing off a power stroke and the ability to handle a bit of adversity.
Wilson belted back-to-back doubles and drove in three runs to power the Lady Trojans past Clever 7-5 Tuesday.
All this after she struck out looking in her first at-bat opposite Lady Jays hurler Kylie Wenger.
“It feels good knowing I can come back and hit that good, after striking out and (Monday) I struck out a few times, too,” Wilson said.
Going back to Clever’s 6-2 win at Purdy on Monday, Wilson struck out in three straight at-bats prior to her first double Tuesday.
She snapped out of her mini-slump after Clever jumped on top 1-0. In the third inning, Sparta’s Natalie Wilks and Averi Leyland both reached on errors with two outs. Wilson then worked the count to 3-2 and fouled off a couple pitches, before lining a two-run double to center field.
Wilson’s double came on the eighth pitch she saw in the at-bat, with nearly all of the pitches from Wenger being low and away to Wilson.
“That showed me what the umpire’s strike zone was like and what I should swing at,” the left-handed swinging Wilson said.
In the fifth, Wilson ripped an RBI-double off the left-center field fence.
A sophomore, Wilson had two home runs last weekend during Sparta’s march to the SWCL Tournament championship.
“I’m proud of her. She is doing great things for us,” coach Troy McPherson said. “She put in so much work in the off-season, building her power. I can’t get her off my field. She always leaves ruts in the left-handed batter’s box because she is there so often.”
Wilson can still be projected as a raw talent. She has never played club ball in a sport that is dominated by club ball participants.
“Last year, she hadn’t seen this level of pitching before and struggled at times,” McPherson said. “With that being said, she still hit .350 and hit one homer. She’s coming into her own this year.”
Club ball coaches at the 16U level should take note, Wilson is hitting .556 with 13 RBIs this season. Of her 10 hits, she has four doubles and two home runs.
“She has a lot of power,” shortstop Megan Brown added. “She has a hard swing. If she gets a hold of one, it’s going to go far.”
Brown walked, singled and scored twice, as Sparta (5-0) put up two runs in the third, three in the fifth and two in the seventh.
Wilks was 2-for-4 and doubled to bring Brown home with what proved to be the winning run in the seventh.
Sparta’s two runs in the seventh against reliever Sydnee Thrasher gave the Lady Trojans a 7-2 lead. Clever tried to rally and scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Kenna Wise singled twice and drove in a run for the Lady Jays.
Wilks posted 10 strikeouts. Of her 100 pitches, she threw 74 strikes.
The left-handed junior’s best pitching came against Wenger. Wilks struck her out twice and got her to ground out to third.
“It feels nice striking out some bigger hitters, like (Wise once) and (Wenger),” Wilks said. “(Wenger) is good at everything."
“Whenever you have a three-hole hitter like Wenger in a lineup and you can make some pitches to get out of situations, that’s a really good job,” McPherson said. “Wenger is one of the best players we see. She looked like she was leaning a bit over the plate, so we kind of worked in the inner half (of the plate) against her.”
With Wilks having added a rise ball in the off-season to her repertoire of pitches, she has 63 strikeouts in 35 innings.
“The rise ball is nice, I love it so much,” she said. “I feel that I can throw it any (count) I need to and they will swing. "
Sparta 7, Clever 5
Sparta 002 030 2 - 7
Clever 100 100 3 - 5
WP - Wilks. LP - Wenger.