To be great, sometimes it helps to call on the assistance of someone great.
So L.D. Bell third baseman Audrey Bates sought batting advice from former Oklahoma Sooner Jessica Legendre.
“I’ve gained more confidence. I had to clear my head,” said Bates, a junior. “I was thinking too much.”
It’s not as though Bates was having a bad career at the plate. Far from it. But to her, batting .317 with 21 runs batted in, a couple of home runs and eight doubles could be improved upon.
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In fact, it could. As a freshman she batted .382 with 24 RBI, two home runs and seven doubles.
But neither of those seasons compare to what she is doing this year in helping the Lady Raiders chase a fifth consecutive playoff appearance. Her batting average is around .500 with a slugging percentage over .800, and she’s on pace for all her other offensive numbers to easily be her best totals yet.
Bates is a three-year starter for the Lady Raiders. She started out in right field (with some infield platooning) as a freshman, helping Bell win a district championship. She moved to shortstop as a sophomore, and now she feels at home at third base.
“She’s a natural at third base,” said Bell coach Thomas Shives. “She is really a good defensive player to go with her offensive skill set. Great girl, driven to be good. Goal is to play in college.”
To help her chances at getting a scholarship to play in college, Bates focuses on her all-around game. This includes a fielding percentage over .900.
“I work hard on developing my overall playing skills,” she said. “I really want to play in college, and to do that you have to be good all around.”
Bates said getting moved to the outfield actually helped her become better when she returned to the infield.
“I played a new position I had before, and even though I’m more at home in the infield, playing outfield increased my range and speed.”
Among the colleges Bates is considering – and who are considering her – are Southwestern in Georgetown and Rhodes in Memphis.
Along with having the skills to play in college, she also has the intelligence to be a great student, Shives said.
“She’s an International Baccalaureate student and she makes great grades,” Shives said. “It requires a lot of her time, but it tells you the kind of person she is.
“She’s very competitive and very demanding of herself. Her expectations are high.”
Which also helps explain why her game is better than it’s ever been this season, Shives said.
“You learn from your at-bats, don’t carry it over to your next at-bat, she understands this,” he said.
A closer look at Bates’ statistics this season shows she is playing at her best in district play, when, of course, it matters most. Now, with the playoffs on the horizon, expectations are for her very best to show itself when the time comes, and she said she anticipates the moment.
“I think I do well under pressure,” Bates said. “I’m ready for it.”