When reflecting on her stat line from her sophomore season a year ago, Nixa catcher Emma Vincent can’t say she is surprised by any of the streaks or oddities she endured and enjoyed.
For instance, she started the season 1-for-13 batting.
“At the beginning, I was nervous and started off rough,” Vincent said. “I sat down and talked to my Dad. He told me to be confident at the plate. We worked on my hitting a lot at home and it transferred onto the field. One game, I went up to the plate and told myself, ‘I’m going to be confident this at-bat. I’m starting over and not remembering those other at-bats, that it all starts here.’ After that, I got in a groove and had a few big games.”
Indeed, Vincent got hot and stayed hot, leading to intriguing expectations for her junior year this season. With Ozark’s Nya Morgan and Republic’s Julia Higgins — the COC Co-Players of The Year last season — now both in college, Vincent suddenly is one of the most experienced and proven catchers in the conference.
Vincent began to assert herself as Nixa’s starting catcher the third week of September last year. She posted multi-hit games against Branson, Webb City and Liberty North and went on to hit safely in 13 straight games.
While finishing with a .306 batting average, Vincent drove in 22 runs. That was second among the Lady Eagles in RBIs only to Payton Ward’s 24.
Vincent established herself as a tough hitter to strike out or walk. In 75 plate appearances, she fanned seven times and walked just once. She expects to put up similar numbers in those categories this season.
“If I have two strikes on me, that at-bat is for the team and not for me,” Vincent said. “I know I have to put the ball in play for my team.
“I’m not looking to walk,” she added. “I’m pretty aggressive up at the plate. I try to swing at the first pitch. But if it’s not mine, I don’t swing. I try to see my pitch.”
If there’s one Vincent stat this season that may be markedly different than last year it figures to be her home run total. Her first and only varsity home run last season was a three-run blast against Truman.
The right-handed hitting Vincent got much more acquainted with the long ball during travel ball with Elite Futures and in summer league play for Nixa this year.
“I’ve been working on my strength by being in the weight room a lot,” Vincent said. "I think I’ll be able to hit some balls pretty far. I had quite a few home runs (in travel ball). There was one week in which I had three or four homers.
“This summer was crucial for me,” she added. “I spent hours a day in the weight room and hit buckets of balls. I also worked on my blocking and framing a lot. I’m ready for this season.”