Maddie Erickson-led Wilsonville softball off to a blistering start
What a difference a couple years have made for the Wilsonville softball team.
The Wildcats, who in 2019 finished 5-20 and gave up an average of 15.4 runs per game, have started the 2021 season at 9-0 behind Michigan-bound junior pitcher Maddie Erickson.
Erickson was on the team two years ago, but did not pitch as she recovered from a knee injury that she suffered while wrestling. Now, Erickson has become a dominant force for the Wildcats, who haven't had a winning season since 2013.
"I think you would've seen a lot of the same results last year, if we had a season," Wilsonville coach Steve Harms said. "Unfortunately for her, her high school career has become condensed. She has college-level velocity. She's throwing in the mid-60s. She has good spin, too. Very good poise on the mound."
Erickson opened the season with sterling performances in 5-0 wins over Putnam and Sandy, throwing a one-hitter with 15 strikeouts and a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts. And she just kept going from there.
For the season, she is 9-0 with an 0.614 ERA. In 57 innings, she has allowed 22 hits, struck out 101 and walked 14. As the team's No. 3 hitter, she is batting .655 with six home runs and 19 RBIs.
Harms said that Erickson hit a home run in Thursday's win at Clackamas that traveled about 270 feet into a parking lot beyond the left-field fence.
"She's got a big bat," Harms said. "She hits the ball extremely hard. Great exit speed."
The 5-foot-6 Erickson is a versatile athlete. She was a standout thrower in track before entering Wilsonville and excelled in wrestling. She also was the goalkeeper for the school's girls soccer team this year.
In softball, Erickson joined Wilsonville for the second half of her freshman season as a hitter, but as her knee mended, she was subbed out for pinch-runners. Now, she is all the way back.
"She doesn't show any sign of having any issues," Harms said. "She says she's fully recovered and feels great."
Wilsonville is winning with only one senior on the roster in shortstop Kylie Hadden. The Wildcats' starting lineup features four freshmen in catcher Madeline Holly, right fielder Calli Weaving, center fielder Mary Matthews and third baseman Grace Wilson.
"The game for the freshmen is a little bit bigger, but we're working with them and they're starting to perform and getting more relaxed," Harms said.
The Wildcats are hitting up and down the lineup have outscored their opponents 87-8, getting big contributions at the plate from both Weaving and Holly.
Wilsonville beat 5A Northwest Oregon Conference foes Putnam and Hillsboro (10-1 win) for the first time since 2013 and 2011, and also dominated Class 6A foe Clackamas 13-2.
"It was huge," Harms said of the win over Clackamas. "The kids are growing and responding to the level of play. I think Clackamas definitely was surprised, maybe shocked."
Harms said the team's success is just a matter of having "more pieces to the puzzle."
"With the exception of one senior, everyone will return next year," he said. "I think we'll just get stronger and stronger. They're really good community kids. They've been playing and have experience. Their softball IQ is really high."
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