COLUMBIA — Hickman pitcher Riley Wilson proved she has broad shoulders. The freshman pitched nine innings in the Kewpies' doubleheader Saturday at Cosmopolitan Park, only conceding four runs and throwing six strikeouts.
Coach Courtney Haskell called upon Wilson when freshman* pitcher Callie Sapp injured her leg earlier in the season, and Wilson has made the most of her opportunity.
“She stepped up when we needed her,” Haskell said. “In pitching, she has carried us.”
According to Haskell, Wilson is not only a defensive asset, but also an offensive weapon.
“She’s got a great stick,” Haskell said. “Whether it was going to be pitching or in the field, you got to get her in the lineup because the girl can hit.”
Junior teammate Paige Nelson said Wilson’s ability to play anywhere is making an impact for the team this season.
Shorter than most of her teammates, with braces and long blond hair, Wilson doesn't seem like much of a threat at first glance. But Wilson's contributions showed in both games Saturday, a 9-7 victory against Ursuline Academy from St. Louis in the first game, and a 3-1 loss to Holt from Wentzville in the second.
“She’s helped us a lot both offensively and defensively,” Nelson said. “She’s very versatile.”
Wilson’s offense almost sparked a comeback against Holt.
She hit a leadoff double in the bottom of the seventh inning. She thumped the ball toward deep right field. It bounced against the fence, forcing the Indians' outfield to scramble after it, allowing Wilson to scurry to second base. She looked poised to score after making it to third base, though Hickman could not get her home or crack the stiff Indians’ defense.
"We just didn’t have as much motivation. We weren’t as pumped as we were in the first game,” Wilson said.
Against Ursuline, Wilson’s pitching proved pivotal when she came on to spell junior pitcher Allison Tonyan at the top of the sixth. Led by Wilson’s pitching, Hickman held on to win.
Wilson said she did not expect to make such an impact for the Kewpies in her first year.
“I just thought maybe to get a little bit of playing time,” she said. “Pinch run, that kind of stuff.”
According to Haskell, Wilson also brings a strong mental toughness when she plays.
“She’s very mentally tough,” she said, “and that’s really helped her.”
After Saturday’s doubleheader, Hickman is 5-4. The Kewpies’ next game is Sept. 7*, against Kirksville High School.