Kyle Wilkie is starting to emerge as a catalyst in the Clemson lineup both offensively and defensively. His timely hits Friday night helped lead the eighth-ranked Tigers to a 9-4 victory over Boston College at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson.
The sophomore was 3-for-5 with three RBIs, which included a two-run single in the bottom of the first inning as Clemson jumped out to an early 4-0 lead.
“Whenever you can score first I think it’s huge in a baseball game,” Wilkie said afterward. “It just shifts the momentum and it just kind of relaxes you a little bit.
“Everyone is kind of tensed up in those early innings, but you come up with a few runs and everyone just settles in.”
Settling in is just what Wilkie has been doing. He has been putting together quality at-bats and he credits his recent success to staying loose and not overthinking the little things when he approaches the plate.
“It’s baseball, whenever you’re doing well you’re having all of the fun in the world,” said the Cumming, Ga., native. “That’s the key. I think you have to go out there and have fun every day.
“I think right now I’m just relaxed and having fun and that’s why I’m hitting so well. I’m not thinking about mechanics or anything like that. I’m just going out there and playing loose.”
Not only is head coach Monte Lee pleased with Wilkie’s performance offensively as well as behind the plate, but he also feels the sophomore has been the main difference in the amount of runs Clemson has been producing lately.
“Kyle is a guy that does such a good job for us behind the plate,” Lee said. “Our pitchers love throwing to him. He’s a tough kid. This is a guy that’s caught 18 innings a couple of times this year already in doubleheaders. Nobody questions his toughness and for him to be able to give us at-bats like he’s been giving us, that’s the difference.
“The difference between scoring four and five runs a game or seven and eight runs a game is what do we get in the second-half of the order. Guys like Wilkie coming up with big at-bats for us right now is the difference.”
With other catchers on the team, Wilkie knows he has to continue to produce both offensively and defensively, but the job he has done behind and at the plate so far this season has certainly helped the Tigers.
“I just like to go out there knowing I’m the guy behind the plate,” he said. “We have others guys that can. Chris (Williams) can obviously do it. A couple freshman can do it. I’ve always got to be on my toes. I’m the guy back there so I always need to be hundred percent.”