Wilder healthy, so is his average
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stacy Kaneshiro
For his first two seasons with the Hawai'i baseball program, Robbie Wilder was a breathing Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body.
From nose to ankle, if it could break, sprain or pull, it happened to Wilder.
But so far this season, a healthy Wilder has equated to a productive one.
"It's just nice to stay out of the trainer's room for once and spend more time out there" on the field, the senior outfielder said.
It's been nice all right. An 11-for-15 performance the past four games not only landed Wilder Western Athletic Conference Player of the Week honors, but propelled his batting average to .417.
Last week against Hawai'i Pacific he scored the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning after getting his fourth hit of the game. He was 6 for 9 in two of the three games in the sweep at Loyola Marymount. In the game he was hitless, he walked three times and scored twice.
Wilder has been the prototypical lead-off hitter for the Rainbows (9-2), who play No. 24 USC (8-4) in a three-game series starting tomorrow. Hawai'i coach Mike Trapasso said Wilder has been working the counts against pitchers. His seven walks and two hit batsmen give him a hefty .533 on-base percentage.
Wilder said it isn't so much taking pitches for the sake of doing it, but rather being selective, looking for particular pitches he can control by hitting them where he wants.
"I don't go up there saying, 'I'm going to take a pitch,' " Wilder said. "I go up with the mindset that if it's your pitch, I'm going to hit it. But it does mean taking pitches that are a little closer (to the strike zone) and just trying to work the count as much as possible and making sure you get the pitch that you want to hit. Obviously, once it gets two strikes, it becomes a different story. You're just battling as best as you can to put the ball in play."
Wilder played in all three games of the LMU series. He believes it is the first time he had done that since early in his first season here before the injuries started taking their toll.
Among his injuries: A hernia, pulled right hamstring, pulled left hamstring, torn labrum that required surgery and a shattered nose from a pitched ball in practice that led to reconstructive surgery. The price was playing in only 54 games during the past two seasons with a cumulative batting average of .186.
When Wilder returned to campus last fall, he took a yoga class. He found the stretching exercises has helped him stay healthy. So far.
"At this point, with all the injuries, I'll try anything," he said. "It seems to work but I don't want to speak too soon. For the most part, it seems to be helping a lot."
Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at email@example.com.