Dominique Wilson may be only a sophomore, but she's played beyond her years for the Lake Norman softball team.
"She's the complete package," said Wildcats' softball coach Bob Hall.
Wilson is a threat regardless of where she plays on the field. The 16-year-old, who has mainly played first base for Lake Norman this season, has hit well, having a .411 batting average while leading her team with 22 RBIs.
Wilson has also grown stronger, leading her team in home runs with four in the regular season.
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"She's a dominating hitter," said Hall. "She's scary to face."
Wilson's natural position is on the mound, having focused on pitching since she started to play softball at age 9. But with her Wildcat team having a deep and talented pitching staff, Wilson willingly took a backseat to all-state hurlers Kayla Pine and Stacey Houser.
"If she was playing for any other team in the conference, she'd be their starting pitcher," said Hall, who praised Wilson's unselfishness. "I can't imagine that she wouldn't be. She's that good."
Wilson said she puts the Wildcats first.
"I base my success on how the team does instead of me as an individual," said Wilson. "I'd rather help this team out than myself. If they need me to catch, I won't hesitate to gear up."
Wilson has seen a lot of time on the mound this year, as Houser deals with some back problems. Wilson has had strong outings, recording a 1.52 ERA heading into the postseason.
Wilson focuses on her ball's movement rather than to be a power pitcher. She said she has eight or nine pitches she can throw, although her best are her curve ball, changeup and rise ball.
When she's on the mound, she said she's focused.
"I try to block everything out - not to let the players on the other team's dugout get to me," said Wilson.
Hall said that even though Wilson is naturally gifted, she puts in a lot of hard work to play at a high level.
Wilson, who approaches softball with a "there's always room for improvement" mentality, works year-round, going out to pitch and hit in the weekends and after Lake Norman practices.
With her Carolina Comets travel team, she also practices on the weekend during high school season. In the summer, she plays in weekend tournaments and practices three to four times a week with her club.
Wilson and the Wildcats (23-2), which were ranked No. 13 in the nation in last week's Maxpreps.com Xcellent 25 rankings, have had a good season.
Lake Norman has much more than pitching. Their offense has been explosive all year, outscoring opponents 211-28 in the regular season.
"We are a batting team," said Wilson.
Pine and Houser, who have 0.76 and 1.00 ERAs respectively, have also been big offensive, hitting above .475 and combining for 37 runs and 32 RBIs.
Kayla McGuffey, Chloe Archer and Hannah Littlefield have also made big contributions for the Wildcats.
"When we're playing and we're hitting the ball well, it can be anybody who steps up," said Hall. "It can be anybody on any day."
Wilson explained her team has grown close, allowing them to become confident in each other. That chemistry translates onto the field.
"We're like a family and always pick each other up," said Wilson.
With the 4A playoff getting under way this week, Wilson said there's still some work to be done before Lake Norman gets to a state championship level.
After losing only its second game last week against North Mecklenburg for the I-Meck tournament title, Hall agreed.
"They need to get their spirit back," said Hall. "It's all between their ears."
The Wildcats could be in prime position to make a deep playoff run, although Alexander Central, the No. 3 team in the nation according to Maxpreps.com, will likely be a big hurdle.
Wilson will be happy as long as her team continues to give it its all.
"Our top goal is to win states, but our focus is to play as hard as we can," said Wilson. "If we lose to a team playing our best, there's nothing you can do."