Linnay Wilson, a softball star from Coalinga (Calif.), readily concedes, “I’m not super well-known for my hitting, I’m known for my pitching.”
Well, as good as she’s been in the circle, when through the first eight games of the season, you are hitting .889 – that is not a typo – you draw some attention.
“I was not expecting to hit that,” she said of the batting average that is among the best in the nation. “My goal was .400 range, but it’s happened so far and now I have to keep up with it. I wasn’t trying to do it, but I’m extremely happy with it.”
She is hitting .511 for her career with 20 home runs and 84 runs batted in, but perhaps more amazingly, she has struck out only 12 times in three-plus seasons.
Wilson said she relies on one rule at the plate: Put the ball in play.
“I’ve always been a contact hitter and that’s specifically what my goal is,” Wilson said. “I go up to the plate and think, I’m going to hit this ball. I’m not worried if I get out or not. I just need to do my job at the plate. If I hit the ball, then it’s out of my hands. … I know what I can do and I just need to relax and do it. At this point, that is what I’m trying to do. I just need to do my job.”
Wilson is heading to Loyola Marymount on a softball scholarship to pitch at the next level and pursue a career in math or science.
She has not allowed an earned run this season in 22 innings with 50 strikeouts. For her career, she has a 34-13 mark with a 1.65 ERA and 668 strikeouts.
“I’m an extremely shy person, but being in the circle allows me to have a sense of control that I don’t have elsewhere,” Wilson said. “When I get in there, I know that I’m in control and this game is my game. It’s my duty to control this game.
“Attitude is huge for me. Whether I get frustrated or get hit off really bad or have a bad game, it’s important for me to keep my head up and know that things happen and you just have to move on.”
Wilson plays softball year-round and was ready for her senior season, but she noted that the quality of her teammates and the prospects of a championship inspired her to prepare harder.
“She has worked hard over this past season to improve both hitting and pitching,” coach Mike Voss said. “She also seems to be more focused and she has made the game fun again.
“We’ve got an exciting group of players this year that are putting up phenomenal numbers. The prospects of a championship this year are real. I think the talent around you can certainly influence the game and so it has with her game and stats also.”
More than the game she loves or the numbers she’s put up, Wilson is ranked No. 7 in her class academically and has big goals coming from a small town. Coalinga is in Fresno County and has a population of less than 15,000.
“I have to work harder and be more dedicated to get my name out there because I don’t have all the opportunities that some other players do,” Wilson said. “I’m not asking people to feel bad for me, but that has given me that drive and that push to do better. ‘Hey, I can come from this really small town and make a name for myself out in this world.’
“I’m truly trying to put my town on the map. Nobody knows where Coalinga is. That is really a part of me. I grew up here and I want people to know about this town. I want people to remember me as that girl that did her part and worked so hard to get where she wanted to be. Coming from a small town, it is possible. Anybody can do it.
“I’m extremely happy where where I am, but I’m not done.”