CHEYENNE – It took Kaylee Wilson a few seasons in the outfield to regain the confidence to return to third base.
The Cheyenne Extreme senior was gun-shy about playing infield after taking a line shot to the chin during practice while playing on an under-12 team.
“We had a new assistant coach that year, and he used to coach his son in baseball. So he was hitting balls to us really hard,” said Wilson, who was playing in Torrington at the time. “We weren’t expecting that, and I got hit in the chin.
“It wasn’t as bad as it could have been. It only left lace marks and hurt for a while. The head coach told (the assistant) he might not want to hit it as hard anymore.”
Wilson eventually pulled on a facemask, started taking ground balls from her father and decided to return to third.
She has an 89.8 fielding percentage entering tonight’s doubleheader with the Colorado Rockettes of Thornton, Colorado. The first game starts at 5 p.m. on Field No. 3 at the Converse Softball Complex.
Bunting and slapping – pulling back a bunt and taking an abbreviated swing – are a large part of the offensive strategy in softball, which is why Wilson’s solid glove isn’t the only trait that helps her stand out as a third baseman.
“She is fearless,” Cheyenne coach Adam Galicia said. “I like bringing my third basemen five or six steps in front of the bag. There are a lot of third basemen who creep back a little bit, but (Wilson) doesn’t. Not even when she knows I’m calling inside pitches.
“She’ll stay in the same spot and take them on as a challenge. She very rarely makes mistakes.”
Wilson – who will play golf and softball at Crown College, which is an NCAA Division III school in St. Bonifacius, Minnesota – is more than just a defensive standout. She is also good with a bat.
Her .467 (43 for 92) batting average ranks third on the roster for Extreme (33-9-2). Her 10 doubles and six home runs are both tied for third. Her 37 RBIs are tied for second.
Galicia also credits Wilson’s work ethic for helping her become a player Cheyenne can count on.
“She is one of our most consistent players,” he said. “There are a handful I know I can count on game in and game out, and (Wilson) is one of them. She doesn’t overthink plays, she goes out and does every drill hard and leads by example.”
Some of that work ethic stems from being raised in an agricultural family. Wilson’s family raises cattle and grows corn, millet, alfalfa, beets and wheat in Meriden.
“When I come to practice, I’m focused on working hard and getting things done,” Wilson said. “We all lose focus sometimes, but I try to keep quiet and keep from making our coaches lose it.
“I try to keep my teammates focused too. None of us want to run if we’re not practicing the way we should be. I’ve always been like that.”