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Wilcks commits to play for Pack softball

Nevada Appeal Staff Reports

by Darrell Moody

R-C News Service

Northern Nevada is where Kaycee Wilcks’ heart is, and it’s where her softball future is, too.

Wilcks, Douglas High’s speedy senior outfielder, gave a nonbinding verbal committment to play for coach Michelle Gardner at the University of Nevada next season.

Wilcks chose Nevada over Wagner University, a small Division I school in New York. Wagner had offered Wilcks early, and Nevada didn’t come into the picture until last Thursday a few days after Wilcks had returned from her visit to Wagner. Wilcks, who will be on a millenium scholarship, will be a preferred walk-on the first year, meaning she won’t have to go through any tryouts.

“The thing that really made me choose UNR was being at home and staying close to everybody,” Wilcks said Monday night. “My whole family can watch me play. If I’d gone to Wagner, my parents could have come to a few games, but it’s expensive to fly, and the cost is going up.

“It was mostly a distance decision. I really liked their (Wagner’s) program, but now I have the opportunity to play against teams like UCLA (Nevada’s recent opponent in a tournament). I love the coach. Michelle is an awesome person.”

Todd Wilcks, her dad and the Tigers’ head softball coach, talked about the flurry of activity over the past few days.

“We had two different meetings (with coach Gardner) last Thursday,” Kaycee’s father said. “Michelle had been meaning to call. She wanted her to come up there and play.

“Wagner was a great opportunity. There were a lot of positives going back there. The negative thing is it was so far away.I think it was the right decision. I’m comfortable with Kaycee’s decision.”

Nevada returns approximtely 15 players from its current 22-woman roster. Wilcks was told by Gardner that she doesn’t plan to keep as many players next season, and that a few outfielders were graduating.

“She (Gardner) said she deoesn’t know how she’ll use me,” Wilcks said. “She hasn’t seen me play all that much (recently). I’ll probably start out being used as a baserunner.”

That may sound trivial, but in this day and age of tight games, speedy runners are worth their weight in gold. Wilcks runs well, and has the ability to create havoc once she reaches base.

Wilcks, who hit .250 last season, says she is trying to become a more well-rounded hitter.

“I’ve totally changed the way I swing,” Wilcks said. “I’ve been working hard with Jim (Puzey, assistant coach) and Lloyd (Capra, assistant coach). I’m getting the hang of it more and more. I’m getting it. We’ve been doing a lot of live hitting, and I’ve been doing pretty good.”

The Douglas senior wants to be able to become adept as a bunter, a hitter and a slap hitter. If she can master all three, she will leave defenses in a quandry as to what she will do at the plate.

Wilcks follows in the footseps of her dad, who was an All-American player for the Silver & Blue under coach Chris Ault. He was all-conference three seasons, and helped the legendary Frank Hawkins become one of the top rushers in NCAA history at the time.