Molalla's Kenzi Kluken a hit in summer league softball
A left-handed power hitter, Kluken batted .471 with 17 RBIs in 38 games for Stealth Fastpitch 16U team from Milwaukie.
After having a great hitting season as a junior in high school softball, Molallas Kenzi Kluken set out to do more of the same with her summer team.
She did not disappoint.
Kluken emerged as one of the most potent left-handed hitters in the local ASA 16-and-under ranks, batting an impressive .471 as the clean-up hitter for Stealth Fastpitch of Milwaukie.
It was great. I had a blast, said Kluken, who went 33-for-70 with six doubles, two triples, 17 RBIs and 24 runs scored to help pace Stealth to a 26-12 record.
It was a great experience, she said. Ive been playing in the summer since I was 7 and its just a great experience every year. Being able to continue my softball career is great, and I hope to continue on to college.
Kluken was named to the all-Tri-Valley Conference second team as a catcher last season when she batted .420 and led the 3-21 Indians in almost every significant offensive category, including doubles, triples, homers, RBIs, stolen bases and runs scored.
She split playing time this summer between two positions -- catcher and left field.
Kenzi is the consummate utility player, Stealth coach Blair Snyder said. You can play her anywhere and she does pretty well.
She has excellent leadership qualities. Shes just one of those heart-and-soul types of kids on your team who likes to keep in loose and fun. But when she steps between the lines, she plays the game with a very high softball IQ. I honestly think that she could probably play college softball at any level she wanted to.
Stealth drew most it players from Rex Putnam in Milwaukie, but also had players from Gladstone, Jesuit, La Salle Prep, Lake Oswego, Silverton, and Heritage High School of Vancouver, Wash.
The team went undefeated at the Oregon ASA 16-A State Championships last month and was crowned co-champions along with the DeMarini Titans of Salem after the tournament at Wallace Marine Park in Salem was shortened by severe thunderstorms.
Stealth also traveled to Triple Crown Sports tournaments in Colorado and California.
Kluken said the trips helped make her mentally tougher.
That was one major improvement I made this summer, she said. I used to struggle mentally a lot. If I messed up or grounded out, I would get really upset with myself. But Ive learned that if you ground out, but you drive in a run, that can be as big an accomplishment as getting on base.
Its been a work in progress. I think a lot of it is the team and the environment that youre in. If the other players keep you up, then your mental game will stay up. Im on a great team and we have such an amazing bond. That helps me a lot.
Kluken has some down time now, but plans to jump back into fall ball with Stealth the first week of September.
Yep, Im going to enjoy what summer I have left, she said.