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Baylor's McKenzie Wilson Embraces Fresh Start

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(Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics)

After almost two years without playing a college softball game, Baylor’s McKenzie Wilson is ready to get back on the field.

Last season while she was still a member of the Fresno State softball team, just two weeks into preparing for opening day, her year took an unexpected turn.

“I’m on third base and a ball is hit, and I run to home and dive headfirst into home plate and my shoulder dislocates,” Wilson said. “I can’t get up and I’m wincing in pain.”

It was later realized that Wilson had torn her labrum and surgery would be needed to repair it. However, Wilson wanted to play the season out instead.

After reevaluating the situation, however, she made the difficult decision to redshirt for the 2021 campaign and opted to have shoulder surgery.

“Looking back at it now, that was the best decision because now I have three years of eligibility (remaining),” she said. “(It was a) very difficult decision and Fresno State wound up winning conference, and I was still part of it, just not in the same way that I hoped to be.”

Those three more years also stem from the shortened season in 2020. Almost two full seasons later, Wilson will get to play softball again, but with a fresh start.

After originally committing to play at UC Riverside with Linda Garza at the helm, Wilson decided to follow her when it was announced that Garza would be named Fresno State's head coach in 2016.

Wilson's freshman year put her in the spotlight quickly, after she hit .393 while in the leadoff spot for most of the season. She received All-Mountain West first-team honors and Mountain West Freshman of the Year honors for her performance in 2019.

But after the 2020 season got cut short and she sustained her injury in 2021, Wilson decided it may be time to try something new.

She entered the transfer portal last summer and within just a couple hours of putting her name in, she had a school asking if she wanted to come aboard. It was Baylor.

“I was absolutely ecstatic,” Wilson said. “I couldn’t believe it… I wind up going to Waco, Texas for a visit and I just stepped on campus and said, ‘Okay, this is where I need to be.’”

After growing up in Southern California her whole life, adjusting to the Texas lifestyle has been a bit different for Wilson. She says she’ll always remember her time with the Bulldogs.

“California is all I’ve known,” Wilson said. “Long Beach, 75 and sunny. I’ve never known anything other than that… (I) had the best of times in my three years at Fresno State and wouldn’t trade them because they kind of led me to where I am today.”

Baylor hopes Wilson’s arrival will help a team offensively that finished fifth in batting average (.273) and second-to-last in on-base percentage (.348) in the Big 12 last year.

The St. Joseph High School product wants to do what she did in high school and lead her team to a conference title one day. But until then, Wilson is grateful to be playing again, as she awaits action in her first official softball game since March of 2020.

“I am most excited to just get out there and compete again, get out there in between the white lines and play Division I softball,” she said. “It’s been a long time and it just makes me so excited to get back out there. I can’t wait for the season.”

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