Mackenzie Boesel isn’t your typical leadoff hitter.
A junior on the Orange Lutheran softball team, Boesel put up numbers during the first three weeks of this season that most cleanup hitters could only dream of achieving.
Boesel slammed six home runs in her first 54 plate appearances, helping the Lancers win their first 14 games, their best start in school history.
“She’s just getting better and better,” says Orange Lutheran coach Steve Miklos, in his 18th season with the program.
Boesel’s early-season power surge has been a surprise, but her polished playing ability has long been recognized.
Boesel, whose older sister, Brittany, is a senior on the DePaul University softball team, was targeted by major colleges even before she took her first at-bat for Orange Lutheran. She made an unofficial trip to the University of South Carolina in January of her freshman year then committed to the Gamecocks that summer.
“I wanted to get away and try somewhere new,” she says of her college choice. “They’re really family oriented and they really care about their players and so I know I’ll be in good hands.”
South Carolina has posted two straight winning seasons after finishing with a losing record in the previous five years, but the Gamecocks haven’t been to the College World Series since 1997.
Boesel hopes to change that.
“I want to be an impact player,” she says.
But before she can start making a difference 2,500 miles from home, she has plenty left to accomplish at Orange Lutheran. She led the Lancers to the Trinity League title last season and the second round of the Southern Section Division I playoffs, where they lost an extra-inning game to Vista Murrieta.
She wants to take the Lancers even further.
Boesel showed her determination as a sophomore last season, hitting five home runs while playing most of the spring with a broken index finger on her right hand.
“She played through it,” Miklos says. “Taped it up and toughed it out.”
Boesel has transitioned from a slap hitter early in her softball career to one that can hit for power and average. She had 26 hits in 50 at-bats through the first 14 games this season, good for a .520 batting average. Just as impressive, she had not struck out in 54 plate appearances.
Her ability to make contact and get on base are what make her a prime leadoff hitter, Miklos says. The home runs are just a bonus.
“A few years ago, I had a girl who ended up playing at Arizona State, a pretty good player, Mandy Urfer, and they were walking her, so I batted her leadoff,” Miklos says. “If you’re going to walk her, I’ll start the inning with her on base.”
Games hadn’t reached that point with Boesel, as she drew just four walks in the first 14 games, but that could end up being the opponent’s strategy if she continues her hot streak.
The Lancers are next scheduled to play in the Santa Maria tournament the weekend of April 9 after a 16-day layoff between games. Boesel doesn’t figure to change her approach when she steps back into the batter’s box.
“I just want to focus on quality at-bats and hitting the ball hard,” she says.
That doesn’t figure to be difficult this season.