The one thing that opponents, coaches and teammates notice about Roswell’s Mikenzey Patterson is her ever-present smile on her face and cheerful nature. Patterson’s smile belies the intense teammate and competitor she is.
Patterson never shined brighter than on the volleyball court when she was the first one off of the bench to pick a teammate up, hand out high-fives and give words of encouragement to lift her team up in key moments during timeouts.
“Her attitude comes from Mom and Dad,” dad Mike Patterson said. “We stress attitude a lot. We told her that you might not be the best one out there, but if you’re going to do it, give it everything you’ve got. Always have a positive attitude and pick yourself up and even if you’re not out there playing, always support your team. We tell her if you make a mistake it is not the end of the world, just make up for it later.”
That kind of attitude has endeared her to her volleyball coach Heather Baca, and softball coach Art Sandoval. Sandoval is counting on the big-time hitting catcher to lead by example and continue to come up with big hits with runners on base as she did last season.
Patterson can look bad at the plate with two strikes on her, but when she hears her family call her by her pet name, something snaps inside of her. She will listen to coach Sandoval give her instructions of not to swing at nothing below the knees or above the elbows — she will nod her head and step back into the batter’s box with her left hand raised asking for time as she tugs at her jersey and adjusts herself and crouches in the box until she is comfortable. She will tug at her jersey and twirl the bat around and stick it out trying to get the timing of the pitcher and then nod her head to herself saying she is ready to hit.
“We’ve learned growing up in the program two-strike hitting,” Mckenzey Patterson said. “You never go down looking — you try to swing and foul them off until you can get a pitch to hit or draw a walk. I always try to fight it off and figure out what the pitcher is going to try to throw me. When you play a bunch of pitchers, you can pick up the spin and see what the pitch is.”
Patterson — if she is having trouble with a pitcher — will battle her and will foul off pitch after pitch until she gets the right one to hit. Nine times out of 10 will hit a line drive just past a diving infielder for a base hit. Patterson has the speed to bunt her way on base and then steal second and go all the way home on an overthrow.
That is the kind of player ENMU’s first-year coach Kira Zeiter is looking to turn around the morbid softball program as the Lady Hounds were 18-34 last season. Zeiter’s looking for the kind of fight, attitude and competitive spirit Patterson has. Zeiter is hoping Patterson’s never-give-up attitude and teamwork will become contagious to the other players on the team and the other freshmen in her class.
Patterson will have a good chance of contributing right away, as the Lady Hounds only have 10 returning players on their roster. Patterson has been playing travel ball and has been playing outfield, and with her speed, she will be an asset to the ENMU’s outfield.
Before Patterson can take her talents to Portales, she still has a senior season to play, according to RHS coach Sandoval, he expects a big year from her. He expects her to continue to work hard and to be the leader of the pack by leading in a positive way.
“I want to make sure she continues with a positive attitude,” Sandoval said. “I don’t want her to be stagnant, I want her to continue to get better. She has played for me since eighth-grade and she has improved for me on a daily basis. The way she has improved is by her work ethic. She loves the game. I’m very proud of her going to the next level.”
To get better in playing, she has played travel ball with the EC Sliders. Her travel ball coach Kenny Groves felt like she could play any position, and he decided her best chance to play in school right away was to play and learn the outfield positions.
“I’ve coached her four years,” Groves said. “Her hitting has gotten better each year. She is dynamic at the plate — she can bunt, slap and hit with a little power. We moved her to the outfield because I thought her college coaches would see her at that position and I think she is going to end up in the outfield because of her speed. There is no kid more deserving than that kid (Patterson).”
Groves feels like there are kids that are super talented and go on and live their dreams, but none of them have worked harder than Patterson.
Not only is Patterson’s attitude bright, but it matches her IQ and work ethic. Patterson is a National Honor Society student with over a 4.25 GPA. When she is done with her athletic career, she wants to major in biology and become a doctor.
Patterson’s love for medicine started when her brother, Myca Patterson had surgery when he was little.
“I liked that Myca’s (Patterson) doctors helped him when he had brain surgery,” Mikenzey Patterson said. “I liked watching the medical and rehab doctors help my brother when he was in the hospital. They helped him and other kids regain their muscle.”
Academics has been a big part of Patterson’s family, so much that it is a way of life. Patterson’s sister is going to New Mexico State University on an academic scholarship.
“We push academics,” dad Mike Patterson said. “I told my kids that going to school is your job right now. Do your job well and it makes people around you better and it makes you better, and it makes the community better.”
According to her mother Chandra Patterson, this is a dream come true for Mikenzey, who had this goal since she has been in eighth grade.
“Mikenzey is a student first,” her mother, Chandra Patterson said, “and an athlete second. Eastern’s last coach had the highest GPA of any division in college, so it was important she went somewhere that understood that academics were important. She wants to be a doctor and there’s no doubt she will accomplish that.”
Mikenzey fell in with ENMU during a campus visit. The team and players made her feel so welcomed during the visit. Patterson liked that the team was organized and friendly. She loved that the professors were inviting and she felt at home and welcomed.
“Coach Zeiter,” Mikenzey Patterson said, “loved my speed and that I could drop step and read the ball.”
Mikenzey Patterson feels like she owes a lot to RHS coach Sandoval because he gave her a chance to play as a catcher her freshman year. She feels like it opened up everything to her by challenging her to keep up with the upperclassmen and get better in order to stay with the varsity.
Patterson’s favorite memory to date is a three-run homer she hit off Hobbs’ pitcher as the Coyotes were down 2-0.
Patterson’s life seems to be one three-run homer after another.