Wilcox consistently has a ‘solid plan’ at the plate

Sophomore infielder Scott Wilcox looks on as his hit flies towards the outfield before being caught by an FIU outfielder for the third out in the bottom of the ninth at Nick Denes Field Saturday. WKU scored one run in the inning to tie the game 3-3 but was unable to get another run for the win, eventually losing 3-5 in 12 innings.

Kurt Carson

On-base percentage is a statistic that often takes a backseat on a stat line to things such as batting average, home runs or RBIs.

But it’s one that Head Coach Matt Myers believes is the most important in the offensive game.

That’s why sophomore first baseman Scott Wilcox has been one of the most consistent hitters for the Toppers this season.

Wilcox is among the best on the team with a .505 on-base percentage which Myers credits to his solid plan at the plate.

“He’s drawn his walks, which means he has full control of the strike zone, and he sees the ball good,” Myers said. “He doesn’t chase, and he doesn’t have to because his hands and eyes work well together.”

Wilcox said he lets the situation determine his approach to the plate because he wants to have a team-first approach.

“The situation really helps me focus on what I need to do for that at bat, whether it’s driving a guy in or just getting on base for the guys behind me,” Wilcox said.

On-base percentage takes walks into account, unlike batting average.

Wilcox has a .294 batting average but has also drawn a team-high 24 walks this season.

Myers said his patience at the plate and overall ability to get on base has a lot to do with his comfort with two strikes.

“He does a really good job with two strikes, and he’s got a great approach,” Myers said. “When you don’t fear getting down to two strikes, you can be even more aggressive hitter before you get to two strikes.

“He takes what the pitchers give him. If they throw him away, he’ll hit it the other way. If they throw him in, he’ll turn on it. And if they don’t throw it over the plate, he won’t swing.”

Wilcox said he’s constantly trying to maintain a balanced approach at the plate.

“I just try to find the right balance between taking bad pitches and being too patient at the plate,” Wilcox said. “It helps a lot if you just focus on the at bat and try to get on base.”

Wilcox played in 44 games a year ago — starting in 27 of them — and posted a .393 on-base percentage with a .274 batting average.

Myers credited Wilcox’s improved numbers from last year to maturity.

“He’s gotten stronger, and he’s slowed the game down,” Myers said. “He got the experience that he needed to make the step from a freshman to a sophomore.”

Senior second baseman Ivan Hartle said the progression of Wilcox’s offensive numbers are due to the amount of hard work he’s put in since he first stepped on the field with WKU.

“He works very hard,” Hartle said. “Even last year, he had good at-bats, but this year he’s even more confident at the plate.”

Wilcox came out of high school as a shortstop and played backup at the position last season.

He was switched to primarily first base this year in an effort to get his bat in the lineup every day.

Sometimes young players might tend to let learning a new position affect their overall game, which can sometimes cause a drop in offensive production.

However, Myers said Wilcox has embraced the change because he’s a “team guy.”

“I could tell him to go play right field, and he would say, ‘Yes, sir,’ and go do it,” Myers said. “That’s the type of kid he is.”

Myers said they simply want his bat in the lineup because of what he brings to the table, and that’s why they’ve provided him with the opportunity.

“He knows the old saying ‘If you can hit, they’ll find a place for you,’” Myers said. “He knows that’s his opportunity to play in the lineup every day.”