Los Banos grad Monroe hits in big in Bakersfield

By David Witte / sports@losbanosenterprise.comApril 6, 2013 

It's all mental.

That's the way Los Banos High graduate Kelsie Monroe looks at things after she made the jump from San Joaquin Delta College to NCAA Division I California State University, Bakersfield softball last offseason. In doing so, she traded playing the Merced Colleges and Modesto JCs of the world for the Oregon States and the BYUs.

"I think the biggest adjustment is that the hitters can all out-think me at this level," Monroe said. "Me and the coaches and my catcher are trying to keep them off balance."

That's where the mental game comes in for Monroe, who compiled a 26-4 record for Delta in 2012, with a 1.12 earned-run average in 206 innings. She struck out 251 batters while walking just 29. The sophomore is striving to become less of a thrower and more of a pitcher.

"She's a great pitcher, and there's not a lot of great pitchers in this game," CSU Bakersfield coach Crissy Buck said. "Kelsey has the ability to out-think a batter. It's almost like she's playing around with them. Sometimes she out-thinks herself as well, and that's what we're working on.

"We knew when she was coming in that there's nothing we want to change about her physically."

The Roadrunners have struggled this year (7-22 overall, 3-5 in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference), but Buck sees a young team that can only get better, and Monroe is one of the keys.

Bakersfield -- and Monroe -- showed what they're capable of March 25 by taking the nightcap of a doubleheader 10-7 against No. 24 Oregon State.

"Kelsey had just come off the weekend against LMU (Loyola Marymount)," Buck said. "I gave her the ball in the first Oregon State game, and she looked at me like I was crazy. Like she didn't think she could throw three games in a row."

Monroe struggled in the first game, but then earned her sixth win of the season in a 10-7 victory, giving up four unearned runs in five innings of work.

"She didn't do so well in that game, but I pulled her aside and gave her a stern talking to," Buck said. "She went out in the second game and was throwing well. She kept them off balance, and did what she does very well. I was very proud of her in that game."

Amber Mills, a freshman out of Clovis West who splits time with Monroe in the circle, finished the final two innings.

"The second game, I was keeping them off balance," Monroe said. "And I think it was the most fun game I've ever been involved in."

The game was a turning point for Monroe, who attacks each game with more confidence. She will carry a 6-13 record and 3.64 earned-run average into this weekend's four-game home series against Santa Clara.

"She's doing really well for us," Buck said. "It's definitely her first year in D-1, but she has grown in leaps and bounds. We're extremely excited about her."

Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at sports@losbanosenterprise.com

Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at sports@losbanosenterprise.com

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