During Sparta’s basketball season over the winter, Megan Brown didn’t have Natalie Wilks as a teammate for the first time. Whether it be basketball, volleyball or softball at school or on club teams, they had always been teammates.
Wilks opted not to shoot hoops to give softball her complete focus leading up to the Lady Trojans’ season this spring.
“I missed her during basketball season,” Brown said. “She had pitching practice and hitting lessons and worked on softball three times a week. I'm just happy to be with her again for softball season.”
Of course, it wasn’t like Brown and Wilks still didn’t see each other on a daily basis. In addition to the time they spend with each other at school as classmates, they’re often at each other’s house.
Brown and Wilks are cousins and live across from each other on a cul-de-sac.
“We stay with each other all the time,” Wilks said. “She goes on vacation with me. She doesn't even ask, she just shows up. My parents will be saying, ‘Who's all going with us’ and I’ll say, 'Just to let you know, Megan has to go, too.' They're like, 'Yeah, we figured.’”
The two are as close as sisters.
“She's an only child and I only have a brother,” Brown said. “She is definitely like a sister to me and we even fight like sisters.”
Brown and Wilks are a big reason for Sparta’s 8-1 start to its season that includes a SWCL Tournament championship.
They bat 1-2 in the Lady Trojans’ lineup and for good reason. Wilks enters this week with a .613 batting average out of the two-hole and Brown is batting .481 as a leadoff hitter. They have combined for 33 runs scored, a dozen doubles, 11 RBIs and 10 walks.
Defensively, Wilks is a dominating pitcher and Brown uses her athleticism for exceptional range at shortstop.
Wilks owns a 1.21 ERA while striking out 87, walking 14 and allowing 37 hits over 52 innings.
Interestingly, Brown was the first of the two to step into the center circle.
“When we played T-ball, she used to catch and I was the pitcher,” Brown said. “I would stand next to my Mom and she would coach-pitch.”
That all changed on a whim, as apparently Brown grew bored with pitching. The rest is Sparta softball history.
“One day I was like, 'I want to catch,’ and Natalie said, ‘Okay, I'll pitch,’” Brown said. “By seventh-grade year, I started playing infield and some outfield and she kept working on her pitching.”