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Wherever sheâ€™s playing, Wakeley a key Cog in lineup
May 23, 2012Genoa-Kingston High School
GENOA – When she arrives at the softball diamond on game day, Emily Wakeley has no idea where she will be playing.
The Genoa-Kingston junior is a lineup mainstay for the Cogs, who will face North Boone in the Class 2A Genoa-Kingston Sectional semifinals at 4:30 p.m. today. Wakeley just doesn’t know what position she’ll be handling at any given moment.
This season, Wakeley has played every position with the exception of catcher. She even pitched a scoreless half-inning in a game against Plano, striking out a batter.
Although she has to wait until Cogs coach Mike Lauer posts the lineup card to find out where she will play, the uncertainty doesn’t concern Wakeley.
“There’s not really challenges to it,” she said after G-K’s practice Tuesday. “It’s kind of wondering, I guess.”
Around the middle of last season, Lauer wanted to bring up talented freshman Paige Keegan to help the Cogs’ varsity squad. Keegan’s strongest position was catcher, which is where Wakeley played most of the time.
Lauer also knew that he needed Wakeley’s bat in the lineup, so he had her spend a lot of time at second base. This season, the junior’s main positions have been first base and left field. Lauer said he is confident that he can play Wakeley anywhere on the diamond depending on who is pitching, who’s injured, which players are performing and which ones aren’t.
“She just knows it’s going to be somewhere every day,” Lauer said. “It’s not an issue as long as she’s playing. She loves to play. That’s the bottom line.”
Wakeley has not played catcher, her natural position, in 2012 in part because of injury concerns. While playing for the Kishwaukee Valley Storm last summer, Wakeley suffered micro-trabecular fractures in her right knee while attempting to steal second base. She still suffers pain in the knee from time to time.
This season, Lauer found a spot for Wakeley at first base, where she has seen most of her action. She has handled the change without much adversity.
“We felt that she’d be able to dig the ball out of the dirt pretty well,” Lauer said. “She’s softball-oriented. Without having to tell her, she’ll make the play where it’s a bad throw, she’ll come off the bag and make that tag. She’s so softball-oriented that she’s just made that transition really well.”
At the beginning of the year, Wakeley had to become acquainted with some of the nuances of the position, such as how to properly stretch for throws and knowing that she needs to keep her right foot on the base, not her left.
The biggest change for Wakeley was playing without a face mask, which she was accustomed to as a catcher. The All-Big Northern Conference East Division selection went without one to start the season, but decided she would be better off wearing one at first base after a couple weeks.
Now, she’s not worried about getting hit by hard line drives or bad hops, something that has helped her confidence.
“At the beginning of the year I was nervous about that, and then I started wearing a mask,” Wakeley said. “I just feel more comfortable with the mask on.”