MARYSVILLE — The Marysville-Pilchuck softball team’s 20-8 season thrived off of big hitters, most notably senior Kylie Lopez, who ended the season with nine home runs.
But a younger prospect improved steadily during the year and stood out at state.
M-P pitcher and utility player sophomore Mckenzie Justice batted .500 and ended her season with seven homers. She earned her seventh and batted in six runs in M-P’s semifinal state game against Mount Spokane May 28.
As a result, she is the Marysville Globe-Arlington Times Athlete of the Week.
“I was seeing the ball pretty well at the plate,” Justice said. “I saw the runners on base, and I just wanted to hit and let everything else happen.”
Justice isn’t just a hitter; she also pitched much of M-P’s season with a 4.0 earned run average.
“She’s been our ace pretty much all season,” M-P coach Aaron Zachry said. “It makes our defense better.”
When Justice wasn’t pitching she was playing third base or outfield. Justice has traditionally played third base for the NW Speed select team in Tacoma, but Zachry says she has a great overhand throw from the outfield and can catch the ball just fine.
Zachry has coached Justice since her t-ball days off-and-on and has noticed the hard work she had put in to excel at hitting.
“She really as a kid, could not hit a lick,” Zachry said.
Zachry has helped Justice become a better overall player, giving her clear instructions to help her improve, Justice said.
“He’s pretty straight-up with me,” Justice said. “He doesn’t sugar-coat it.”
The sophomore shows no signs of hitting her ceiling as a hitter, and her pitch selection will only get better, Zachry said.
“I think her better days are still in front of her,” Zachry said.
With two years of high school left, Justice strives to play in college.
“I just want to leave it open right now and see where it goes,” Justice said. “It’s always been my goal. It’s kind of what I strive for.”