Natalie Wilks homered in her final at-bat in a Sparta uniform, but didn’t make the trip to State she dreamed of.
Wilks’ celebrated career came to an end with the Lady Trojans’ 13-3 Class 2 Quarterfinal loss to Mt. Vernon last week.
“That’s not how I wanted to end it,” she said.
Mt. Vernon flustered Sparta with ground balls to the left side of the Lady Trojans’ infield that repeatedly resulted in either infield hits or errors.
The Lady Mountaineers finished with 12 hits and Sparta ended with five errors.
“We needed to execute better and we didn’t,” coach Troy McPherson said. “Today’s pitching performance is not an indication of (Wilks), it was more of a poor defensive plan on our part. We had a game plan, they had a better one.”
“They’re fast, but some of those plays we could have made,” Wilks said. “Some of us didn’t believe we could do it, so it just started to fall apart. You don’t have time against this team, you have to know the game of softball and think fast.”
Wilks also homered in her first at-bat, giving Sparta a 1-0, first-inning lead. On both homers, she drilled inside pitches.
“Give me inside and I’ll pull it,” Wilks said. “I used to always want to hit outside, but have worked on inside (pitches) a lot and it’s helped.”
Wilks pushed her home runs total to nine on the season. She finished with a .534 batting average, 21 doubles, five triples 44 runs scored and 59 RBIs.
McPherson believes Wilks proved herself as the best player in the state this season.
“I’m going to stand by the fact that I think she is the best player in spring softball offensively and defensively,” he said. "I don't see anyone else circling the bases twice against an all-state pitcher (Mt. Vernon's Harley Daniels)."