Slade Wilks finding his swing in sophomore season

Published: May. 26, 2022 at 7:52 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Most everybody around the Pine Belt knew about Slade Wilks’ power coming out of Columbia Academy.

The lefty smashed a school-record 50 home runs during his time as a Cougar.

But Wilks’ prowess at the plate didn’t immediately translate to the Southern Miss. He hit just .158 with eight runs-batted-in and two home runs as a freshman.

His .300 batting average this season ranks second among the Golden Eagles to go along with 34 RBI.

Wilks’ tenth homer of the year was a 412-foot moonshot on Wednesday to give USM the lead for good in a 4-3 win over UAB.

The sophomore designated hitter credits his turnaround to the summer spent in the New England Collegiate League and his work with hitting coach Travis Creel.

“There’s no doubt I’ve definitely grown,” Wilks said. “I went through some growing pains as a freshman. Just kind of went off this summer and just kinda refreshed my mind, just did the game I’ve always played. Everything seemed to slow down for me a little bit this year. It’s just been a big jump.”

“Certain things have had to happen with his swing to shorten up,” said USM coach Scott Berry. “He’s got power but power doesn’t equate to hitting velocity and you have to be able to shorten some things up, there has to be some timing that has to be adjusted in order to improve. And he’s still improving. He’s not where he wants to be, he’s not where I want him to be. But he’s still improving and you saw that tonight with a really good swing on an off-speed that he recognized and hit a long way in a big moment there.”

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