Feb. 25, 2004
BERKELEY, Calif. - Cal junior shortstop Chelsea Spencer is having a breakout year at the plate, batting. 405 with one homerun, eight RBI and 10 runs scored through 13 games. She discussed her season before the Golden Bears left for the NFCA Classic in Columbus, Ga.
Q) Before this year, you were a career .245 hitter. But you're currently batting .405 and have filled the boxscore with regularity. Is this your best year?
"Oh, yeah, for sure. Offensively. I was batting seven or eight and now I'm five. Batting after a No. 4 hitter is a little bit different."
Q) You're also 3-for-3 in steals. Last year you stole a career-high four bases. Is Coach Diane Ninemire giving you the chance to do more running?
"Yeah. She wants us all - Vicky [Galindo], Kaleo [Eldredge] and L.J. [Lindsay James] - to run more. I got faster from lifting weights. We have more team speed this year, and she's utilizing our speed."
Q) To what do you attribute your good start?
"I worked really hard over the summer with weights, hitting the weights. I didn't stop playing this summer. Coming into fall ball, I worked really hard on my offensive game. I have a different role this year. I'm stepping up into a leadership role. I know I have to do well."
Q) Did the coaches ask you to lift weights or did you decide to do that on your own?
"I decided to hit the weights on my own. I hurt my left shoulder my freshman year. I played a little hurt last year. It was just not all there for me. I was scared to put my arm in certain positions, diving for balls. It hurt. After lifting weights and my getting shoulder really strong, now when I dive for a ball or into a base, it's like, 'Wow, I can really do it.' I didn't dive into catcher for a while, but now I can do it now and it feels great.
"I've never lifted a lot. It's been working out. I want my younger teammates to see that through lifting and pushing yourself you get an advantage."
Q) You mentioned how it's your best year "offensively"....
"I don't know if I've focused more on hitting this year. I'm not playing well defensively. I'm not as aggressive as I have been. This whole week I've been working on my aggressiveness on the ball. I want to be more well-rounded than just being a good hitter. The best part of my game is the defensive part. This weekend, I'll do better."
Q) In the 1-0 win over Florida International, you had an error and then scored from first when the FIU defense threw away Jessica Pamanian's drive to shortstop. How did that feel?
"Some games it's just going to happen like that. We had our delays at the Santa Barbara tournament [last weekend] because of rain, and we just have to get used to being able to deal with that adversity. I felt good [against FIU]. I felt good we could push a run across in any situation. This weekend, against good competition, it'll be who blinks first. When we're not playing as well as could, as long as we can push a run across and get a W, that's says a lot for our team. It felt good that J.P. could come up with a hit."
Q) As you mentioned, you're about to play some tough teams (including a rematch with No. 13 LSU) in the NFCA Classic in Georgia this weekend. Are you looking forward to that?
"I'm looking forward to it. We play LSU again. They're going to come out gunning for us, because we beat them [5-1] in the UNLV tournament. Last weekend, we all didn't play well. Coming into this weekend, know we'll do well. We know we have to do better."
Q) What's your major?
Q) What would you like to do after graduating from Cal?
"Try to keep playing, but if my luck runs out, I want to be a massage therapist or a college coach. I really love softball. If I can devote my skills to coaching in college, I'd love to do that. I wish I could play softball forever.
"I like helping people with their muscles. I've gotten a lot of massages since I was 12, and I know it's helped me a lot."
Q) Cal's been to the championship game two years in a row now. Does this team have the talent to get back there?
"For sure. It's a whole different team and mentality. We're scoring more runs. Our pitchers are pitching great. We lost a really good catcher [Courtney Scott], Ronnie [Veronica Nelson], and other players who have been there before. They helped us out a lot. This team, when we played LSU, and that was in our second tournament [in mid-February], if we play like that, I feel we can really, really do some damage."