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Woodland star athlete Mallary Barks leads softball team to winning streak

Last Thursday, Woodland junior Mallary Barks hit a solo home run and a one-run double in a 4-2 win over Malden at home. Photo by Nick McNeal

One question is always brought up to Woodland junior Mallary Barks by her mother before every softball season: “Do you want a new glove?” Mallary’s answer each time? “No.”

Ever since she was six-years-old, Barks has used the same glove her mom first bought for her when Mallary started playing. Barks doesn’t necessarily keep using the glove season-after-season out of superstition — it’s more so because she just loves it.

The same can’t be said for Mallary’s single batting glove, though, that can be seen halfway covering the top of her right hand since it’s torn over the years from being used so much.

Woodland softball (4-3) has greatly benefited this season not just because of these two gloves — but because of the caliber of the player wearing them.

Barks recently led the Cardinals to a 4-2 win over Malden (5-6) last Thursday at home. Mallary drove in two of those runs herself as she first knocked the ball out of the park in center field for a solo home run in the bottom of the third inning.

In the very next inning, Barks hit the ball to center field again for a double to drive in another run and give Woodland a 4-0 lead over the Green Wave. The Cardinals held on for their fourth win of the early year after starting the season 1-3 overall.

“Our pitchers have been the main key to winning these games along with our team stringing hits together,” Mallary said. “Our pitchers have been throwing a lot of strikes and letting our defense make a lot of plays.”

Defensively, Barks leads the infield at shortstop and is one of the four Woodland starters with a perfect fielding percentage. She’s recorded three double plays and has either recorded or assisted on 26 outs, which ranks second only behind junior first baseman Janelle Fox’s total of 39.

“I feel like I have a lot of control of the game when I play [shortstop],” Barks noted. “I can talk to everyone because I’m in the center of the field, and I just bring a lot of energy to help boost our confidence for the rest of the game.

“I have a good relationship with all my teammates, and I feel that having that relationships with them means they look up to me. I just try my best every play and bring a lot of energy to the field and dugout!”

Mallary’s homer against Malden was the second she’s hit in the last five games for the Cardinals as the last was in a 16-1 rout of Oak Ridge (1-3). Even though the ball didn’t leave the park, Barks drove it to center field off a line drive for an inside the park grandslam.

Barks had two other hits, scored three more runs and drove in another two against the Bluejays. Mallary currently has the second-best batting average for Woodland at .500 as she’s recorded 11 hits, three doubles, one triple, 11 runs scored and nine RBIs.

“I was struggling earlier this season with finding my timing with different pitches,” Barks said. “I’ve been getting a lot of reps off the tee as well as soft toss, and I’ve kinda just worked my way into getting my timing down each game.”

Mallary is one of only three upperclassmen for the Cardinals this year, along with Fox and senior pitcher Rhodie Long. Long is currently 2-2 on the mound, having recorded 12 strikeouts with a 3.87 earned run average.

Offensively, Long has an outstanding batting average of .783 as she’s produced 18 hits through 23 at bats, while she’s also scored 10 runs and drove nine in as well.

Woodland’s other pitcher is freshman Makayla Altenthal, who has a record of 2-1 overall with 10 strikeouts. She picked up the win over Malden and also Meadow Heights last Tuesday.

Altenthal has also been a bright spot at the plate as she paces Barks and Long with a .476 batting average. She’s also produced 10 hits, scored 10 runs and drove another four runs in.

Another top batter for the Cardinals this season is freshman second baseman Addy Massa, who’s recorded a .455 batting average with 10 hits, two doubles, one home run, 11 RBIs and nine runs scored.

Barks, Long and Massa each play two other sports together, starting with volleyball in the fall and then basketball over the winter. Woodland won the BCS Tri-County Conference Tournament Championship in basketball and reached the district title game in volleyball.

Barks was an all-district and all-conference selection in both sports. She averaged 15.5 points, seven rebounds and 3.5 steals per game for basketball, while she produced 355 kills and 285 digs in volleyball.

“Playing multiple sports with my teammates helps build the bonds we all have together,” Mallary said. “I feel by doing that we begin to learn how each player plays as an individual. It helps us get to know each other and the game better!”

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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