Female Area Athlete of the Week: Slugger Eckes bashes homers for Patriots
Pequot Lakes senior is area athlete of the week
Consistency is key for Morgan Eckes.
The Pequot Lakes senior went 9-for-15 with three home runs, a double and 10 RBIs and pitched a no-hitter and struck out 18 last week in five games played.
“It’s been about confidence for me,” Eckes said. “Having my teammates get ahead of me on the bases really helps me and makes me know what to do good for them.”
Eckes got her week started by tallying two hits, including a home run, in an 18-2 win over Pine River-Backus.
The next day she went 3-6 in a doubleheader sweep of Detroit Lakes with one home run.
She then went 3-3 with a double and home run against Kimball and followed it with one hit against Upsala.
“I try to go week by week and forget about the plays before,” Eckes said. “I try not to get too high or too down and just treat each week as a new season.”
For the season, she’s launched four home runs and recorded 18 RBIs over 22 games played. She’s hitting for a .429 average with a .496 on-base percentage and slugging .686. She’s racked 30 hits with nine of them being extra-base hits.
“I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself to have a good season,” Eckes said. “So I decided I needed to have some fun again at the plate and let loose.”
Pequot Lakes head coach Bret Sergent said he’s batted Eckes fourth in the clean-up spot, but might move her to the third spot in the order for playoffs.
“Everything is going right for her at the plate,” Sergent said. “She’s locked in and right now she’s been the most consistent for us. Against Kimball, she hit one out on the road. Even her singles are hit hard and everything she’s hit lately is right on the button.
“I’m putting her at the three-spot now to see if I can get her an extra at-bat here and there because I need her to come up with people on base.”
Consistency was something Sergent hit on a lot as Eckes has been held hitless just five times over 22 games.
“When she’s locked in like that there’s nothing to do as a coach,” Sergent said. “When she goes into the box I think she visualizes hitting the ball hard. Just her confidence and she makes good adjustments at the plate.”
In the circle, she struck out 10 in four innings pitched against PRB. She pitched a no-hitter in the opening game of the doubleheader against Detroit Lakes and struck out six. She then struck out two against Kimball.
“I’ve just been trusting my teammates behind me that they are going to make a play,” Eckes said. “I’m trying to pitch more for ground outs and flyouts instead of always going for the strikeout.”
Eckes uses a changeup effectively and developed a rise ball to keep hitters off balance. Eckes spends a lot of time working on her game at Strike Zone Sports in the Twin Cities improving her skills.
“My mental game has improved,” Eckes said. “Just wanting to be out there and be a leader for my team as well as being cool, calm and collected in the circle and at the plate for the other girls to look at.”
For the season, she’s pitched 60.1 innings and holds a 0.93 ERA with a 0.85 WHIP. She’s tallied 89 strikeouts and opponents are hitting .116 off her.
“She’s been doing it for a long time and she works at it,” Sergent said. “She’s got a lot of pitches that she throws.”
Eckes has formed a one-two punch in the circle with Kaitlyn Geschwill. The two of them have pitched all 135 innings for the Patriots.
“Kaitlyn is my best friend and we spend all day together whether we are on the field or just hanging out with each other,” Eckes said.
Sergent said he can tell Eckes loves softball.
“I mean you ask her about any bat and she knows the weight of the bat, what type of bat, I mean, the girl is a softball nerd,” he said. “If it’s softball. She knows it or has read it.”
As a leader, Eckes really tries to invest in younger teammates just as the older girls on the team did with her.
“When I was a seventh grader on varsity I had some great people who really pushed me to be a better teammate and leader,” Eckes said. “Just learning that when I was 13 and projecting that to the other kids is what I love to do, so our younger generation of Pequot athletes can be the best they can.”
Sergent added: “As a leader, she is very outspoken and will lead by example. She’s got a good understanding of the game and is not afraid to talk to younger players and give them tips. If we need something done with our youth program she is the first to volunteer. She gives back and has a big heart.”
Other notable performances:
Softball: Kendra Couture, Little Falls, went 5-for-5 with a double against Detroit Lakes.
Victoria Koering, Pine River-Backus, went 4-4 with a triple, five RBIs and three runs Nevis.
Ariana Burns, Pine River-Backus, went 3-4 with a double and four runs against Nevis.
Brooklyn Rudrud, Pillager, went 3-4 with the go-ahead run against Sebeka.
Alyssa Sadlovsky, Pierz, went 3-4 with four runs and three RBIs against Little Falls.
Jenna Dykhoff, Wadena-Deer Creek, went 5-6 with seven RBIs against Pillager.
Hannah Christle, Pillager, tallied four hits with a triple against Wadena-Deer Creek.
Golf: Morgan Krieger, Pequot Lakes, won the Grand Rapids Invite with a 74.
Track and Field: Amber Collins, Wadena-Deer Creek, won three events in the Park Region Conference meet.
School: Pequot Lakes
Highlights: She went 9-for-15 with three home runs, a double and 10 RBIs and pitched a no-hitter and struck out 18 last week over five games played.