PHARR — Chelsea Salinas knows how she would pitch to herself if she had to face that daunting task.
“Well, I’d have to be smart and not throw the same pitches over and over. You have to be strategic,” the PSJA Memorial pitcher/slugger said. “I’d guess I would throw up and down, in and out curve drop. I’d throw it to myself. I know I’d swing at it.”
Likewise, she knows how she would approach batting against herself.
“I would scoot up and crowd the plate because I know she would go outside,” she said. “I’d look for a changeup inside and hopefully turn on it.”
It’s something she’s clearly thought about.
Fortunately for Salinas, she doesn’t have to face either one of those would-be intense scenarios. But, other batters/pitchers have gone through that and the results weren’t too good for those opponents.
After a tremendous year on the mound and the plate Salinas, a junior, has been named The Monitor’s All-Area Softball Player of the Year.
Salinas hit .409 at the plate in a lineup stacked with big bats. She led the team with 20 doubles, six triples and 51 RBIs. She was second on the team with four home runs. On the mound she held a 12-1 record with a 1.225 ERA, a .979 WHIP and struck out 195 in 125.2 innings pitched.
She helped guide the Wolverines to the third round of the playoffs, falling to powerhouse Calallen.
The rising senior, who has already committed to Texas A&M International in Laredo, admitted she had a good season before dropping a real bombshell.
“This was probably my worst year at the plate,” she said. “I guess I was in a slump.”
Last year, as in her sophomore year, she hit over .600. So, forgive her if she slumped her way to “just” .409.
“I pitched a lot this year, probably the most ever and had a good year,” Salinas said. “I focused more on pitching and knew I had to produce more on the mound because we had a lot of big bats in the lineup.”
Salinas didn’t start pitching until sixth grade, outside of winding up and firing grapefruits (and other circular objects) to her dad in the H-E-B aisles. That, wisely, led to pitching lessons.
“I started late pitching,” she said. “But since I was really little I would practice my pitching motion behind my house (or at H-E-B).”
She started playing softball a little earlier, as a hitter only and midfielder our or outfielder. She didn’t mention anything about bashing fruit in any produce section.
She said many of the big sticks from the team will be gone next season after graduating and she will focus much more on perfecting her pitching. She works with a pitching coach, especially on spins. While she has a fastball clocked at 60-61 miles per hour, she also has an arsenal of pitches. Her favorite is the changeup, often times inciting hitters to swing way too early, getting off-balance. Her go-to pitch, however, for a strikeout is her curveball.
“I like throwing the changeup but sometimes it’s not on,” she said. “And when it’s not it, it’s just not.”
She is working especially on perfecting her rise ball and getting more speed on her heaters.
“I’m going to need to produce more from the mound and the plate and we are hoping to get deeper into the playoffs,” Salinas said. “That’s our goal.”
She also is hoping to break out of her season-long batting “slump” and return to hitting in the .600 range.
So, how would she pitch against the .600 Salinas as opposed to the .409 Salinas?
“I’d probably just hit myself,” she said, “especially if there is a free base.”