Chelsea Hawks was never a stranger to the burden of carrying a hefty pitching load. During her four-year varsity career at Shoreham-Wading River, she pitched nearly every inning the team played.
More often than not, she led the team to victory.
Entering her freshman season at Molloy College this spring, Hawks expected to tally plenty of innings. Still, the reality of just how much a college pitcher throws came as a bit of a shock.
“I didn’t really realize how much until I actually got there,” Hawks said. “And also schoolwork. I never really had that much schoolwork, either. So balancing schoolwork and that much softball, I definitely learned some lessons.”
Hawks’ rookie season came to an end May 4 when Molloy lost a pair to LIU Post, which won the East Coast Conference Championship. Hawks threw 166 2/3 innings over the season while posting a 15-9 record. Her workload quickly increased as the season wore on and she became more comfortable pitching at the next level.
From April 25 to May 3, she won five of her six starts while giving up nine runs over that stretch.
“It was definitely a rough start,” she said. “Once I settled in I kind of got out of my own head and it was a smoother road.”
She struck out 125 batters on the season and Molloy finished with a 30-22-1 record.
As Hawks quickly found out, there’s not much of an offseason playing college sports. To prepare for the season, she pitched six days a week in January and February, taking off only on Sunday. Before that, she kept busy in the fall with conditioning work to help prepare for the heavy workload that followed.
To be expected, Hawks quickly learned that the hitters in a college lineup were much more formidable than in high school.
“You can’t let anything down the middle, otherwise it’s gone,” she said.
Under the guidance of pitching coach Julie Bolduc, Hawks worked mostly on fine-tuning the array of pitches in her arsenal. She also developed a back-door curve, she said.
“It was really just fine-tuning and making [pitches] cut more and go more to the spots,” she said.
At Shoreham last year, Hawks compiled a remarkable season that went down as one of the greatest in school history. One of her most memorable accomplishments was a 27-strikeout effort in a 13-inning victory against Center Moriches that clinched the league title for the Wildcats last spring. Hawks set a state record for strikeouts in a game.
That record stood until May 3.
Jasmine Ennabe, a senior from Carmel High School, topped Hawks with a 28-strikeout game against Brewster in a 13-inning game.
“Oh, wow, that’s crazy,” Hawks said when informed her record had been broken.
Ennabe will pitch for Adelphi University next year.
“I’ll face her next year, maybe,” Hawks said.