Kylie Wenger has totaled eight hits over Clever’s first three games and still doesn’t feel as if she’s back in the swing of things again.
Wenger had her second straight three-hit game in the Lady Jays’ 7-2 home-opening triumph versus Ava on Monday.
She notes her pitching duties often take away from the number of reps she receives in the batter’s box during practices, thus the reason she’s not entirely comfortable at-bat, yet.
“I feel it’s going to take me a little while to get back in the groove, maybe a few more games of seeing live pitching,” Wenger said. “I don’t get a lot of that because I’m throwing a lot during our batting practice. I do lot of my hitting off our pitching machine and Sydnee (Thrasher) pitches to me. But for most of practice, I’m the one doing the pitching. I don’t get to hit as much as everyone else off of live pitching.”
Over the weekend at the rain-shortened Mid-Lakes Conference Tournament, Wenger also had three hits in a loss to defending Class 2 state champion Skyline and had two hits in a win against Fair Grove.
Clever’s hit parade against Ava also included production from its 7-9 hitters. Thrasher, Avery Whitlinger and Savannah Ketcherside each had a hit in the Lady Jays’ five-run third inning.
“That was impressive,” coach Cheryl Grant said. “We struggle to be solid all the way through. Today, we were solid all the way through the lineup.”
“One of our biggest focuses this year is maybe we should give up a little bit of defense for offense,” shortstop Kenna Wise said. “It definitely helps when you have hitters throughout the lineup. So far, we’ve started out strong.”
“We were solid throughout our lineup,” center fielder G’Anna Reavis added. “Seeing all those girls hit is definitely (intimidating) to other teams.”
Reavis hit .522 last year, but is a bit off that pace so far this season. In the field, she is handling the transition from third base to center better than anyone could have expected.
She had no prior experience in the outfield prior to this season, but was very receptive to the switch.
“I’ve always wanted to be in the outfield,” Reavis said. I feel I’m better out there. When it’s hit to you in the outfield, you have more time in your head to know what to do, then I know exactly what to do with the ball and where to go. In the infield, you have to know instantly what you’re going to do with the ball and I don’t like that.
“I love it in center,” she added. “I feel I have more action out there and I love running.”
“We moved G’Anna so we would have her speed in the outfield,” Grant said. “She caught some balls (at the Mid-Lakes Conference Tournament) I didn’t think were going to be catchable. Also, she takes charge out there and tells people where to go. And, Karli Hedge is doing a great job fielding the ball (at third).”
Already, Reavis has thrown out a baserunner trying to advance an extra base.
“I have a pretty good arm and have made some solid throws,” Reavis said. “I’ve had a strong arm forever. But I never felt comfortable at third because I overthrew on my throw to first base. In the outfield, I can throw full strength and I feel a lot better.”
Wenger threw a six-hitter against Ava, while allowing single runs in the third and seventh. She struck out eight.
With temperatures in the high 40s and rain, along with hail, falling periodically, Wenger was one of only two Lady Jays not do wear a hoodie during the game.
“That first inning, I was thinking, ‘This is not looking good,’” Wenger said of the rain and hail. “I have trouble pitching with sleeves on, I always have. I would have rather had (a hoodie) on, I was cold. But it wouldn’t have been good.”
Clever 7, Ava 2
Ava 001 000 1 - 2 6 3
Clever 105 100 x - 7 8 0
WP - Wenger. LP - Henry.