Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Stephanie Wood leads Ardrey Kell softball

Stephanie Wood hasn't hit a home run this season, but the Ardrey Kell junior really wants to.

She hit one last season, but said she hasn't hit one over the fence since her freshman year. That's not to say she's not having a good season. On the contrary, as Knights Head Coach Bob Bove said, "She's really stepped up this year."

"She's the number three batter, which is generally your best hitter," he said.

"She sets the table. When she comes up, I know she can deliver."

The 5-foot-11-inch tall first baseman may seem quiet, but Wood speaks volumes with her bat. She leads the Knights in batting average (492 percent), slugging percentage (698 percent), singles (20), doubles (9), and runs scored (24). She's second on the team for on-base percentage and is tied for first in stolen bases (12).

Ardrey Kell beat Butler earlier this week for the Southwestern 4A tournament championship.

On a team always chock-full of talent, Wood's name may not be the most recognizable, but her impact has not been missed by her teammates.

"I've played with her for two years now," said senior pitcher Jennifer Rosene. "She's been a great example for everyone on and off the field. She makes good grades, she comes out here and works hard every day, and everyone looks up to her."

Wood has been on the varsity squad for the last three years. She started in right field when the team already had two first basemen, but she's playing a very strong defensive first base this season. Her strong arm made her a good outfielder, said Bove, but it also helps her come up with plays in field.

Having played T-ball at age 5, switching to softball at 8, Wood is no stranger to the batting box; but these days she's seeing everything better.

"You don't strike her out - you just don't," said Bove. "She has a very good eye for the ball."

But more importantly, Wood won't swing at really good strikes; pitches on the corner, high and low. They're tough to get are pitches she'll lay off, said Bove.

"I've always been picky about pitches," said Wood. "I don't know if that's good or bad."

And Wood doesn't really know why her hitting vision has improved. "I guess as a junior I'm just trying to help out the team as best I can."

In the team's win May 5 against Providence, Wood went 3 of 4, leading the team with Rosene in hitting.

The Knights are 18-5 overall, second in the Southwestern 4A conference (8-2) behind Butler. Wood wants to help her team make it to the state championships, and maybe hit a home run in the process.

"I've been working on that," she said.