March 10, 2005
Note: A complete list and story of Florida State’s new signee class will be announced and detailed soon.
By: TERRY MONAHAN – Staff Writer of the NC Times
RANCHO BERNARDO —- To prepare her daughter for her softball future, Maureen May sent her to the kitchen and the laundry room.
No, not to work on a rise ball but to work on life skills.
She knew Melissa May would be leaving home soon to pursue her pitching career after she graduates this spring from Rancho Bernardo High.
“I was making my own lunches before, but making meals is a different thing,” said the 5-foot-6 left-handed pitcher who signed a letter of intent with Florida State last month. “And so far I haven’t ruined my clothes, you know, turned everything pink.
“I’m in AP (advanced placement) laundry now.”
The strikeout artist heads into her fourth varsity season as one of the county’s best returning pitchers.
Once a hurler who relied on her defense as a freshman, May stepped into a new world last season, one where she dominated from the pitching circle. She struck out 216 batters in 141 2/3 innings in posting an 18-1 record. Her ERA was 0.30.
She never missed a step in taking over all the pitching duties in midseason when Laura Determan became ill and couldn’t pitch. Determan and May had shared starting assignments for three seasons.
May not only was a first-team All-Palomar League pick but the Player of the Year as well. She easily earned a first-team All-CIF slot, too.
“She wants the ball all the time,” said Rancho Bernardo coach Tracy Stowe. “She’s a true competitor. If I took her out of a game, I wouldn’t get an argument, but she might ask after the game why she came out so she could work on improving something.
“She’s such a perfectionist she’d be, at times, her own worst enemy. She’d get down on herself in a game when things weren’t going well. Now I don’t see her doing that at all.”
May hit .352 in addition to her pitching assignment.
“It is scary to think what she might do this season,” said Stowe, a former player at Mt. Carmel. “And it’s even scarier to think what she’ll do in college.”
May, 17, began playing softball as a 6-year-old in Bobby Sox. Her mom coached the team.
Learning the art of pitching did not come naturally. Each inch of progress was painstakingly reached. It served to motivate May even more.
“I like pitching now,” May said, pausing a second before adding, “no, I actually love pitching. I just wanted to be the best.”
As a Rancho Bernardo freshman in 2002, May posted a modest 3-6 record with a 1.25 ERA in 73 innings of work.
The next year she offered a little improvement with a 9-5 record and an 0.89 ERA. She began showing her dominance with 92 strikeouts in 102 2/3 innings.
Then last year was the breakout season. She averaged 1.5 strikeouts per inning.
“I’ve changed as a pitcher by just maturing,” said May. “I used to weigh so much less, and I had no muscles at all. The older girls on the team when I was a freshman helped me to get stronger. Weightlifting helped. They showed me the benefit.
“It’s a wonder I even listened to them since I was scared out of my boots during tryouts.”
Being a left-hander in sports is not unusual, except in softball, and especially as a pitcher. May somehow has avoided the dreaded move most southpaws make —- to first base or the outfield.
“Every coach I’ve ever had has wanted me to continue being a pitcher,” she said. “Florida State said they came after me because I was left-handed.
“It’s so cool to meet another left-handed pitcher because we’re kind of unique in the sport. Heck, I’m thrilled to meet someone who just writes left-handed.
“I can hear the other team or the fans talking when they see I’m a lefty, like I’m some kind of circus freak because I’m left-handed.”
May does admit pitchers are like place-kickers in football, a little different.
“And I’m red-headed, as well,” she said, laughing. “I’m a left-handed, red-headed softball pitcher. There aren’t many of us around.”
There aren’t many pitchers around who can dominate a softball game like Melissa May.