East's versatile shortstop leads Lady Titans in rivalry game (video)
April 5, 2013 at 11:04 p.m.
Updated April 5, 2013 at 11:06 p.m.
Victoria East's Monica Salazar knows these games are important and a win Saturday will go a long way for the Lady Titans' playoff hopes and confidence.
"Considering the spot we're in now, it is a must-win situation," Salazar said. "So, we really want to win."
East (12-16, 5-3) is one game ahead of its cross town rival, Victoria West, and most of the teams in District 30-4A are fighting for a spot in the playoffs.
Even though the Lady Titans will be pumped to play their rivals Saturday night, it won't be the only thing on their minds. The most important thing will be snapping a three-game losing streak.
"For us right now, we're just focused on getting a win," East head coach Lee Price said. "We're on a bit of a slump right now and these girls are hungry. We just have to find a way to win and I think once we do we'll get things back on track."
Salazar will play a critical role in getting East back on track as the regular season comes to a close in two weeks. It's a role the senior shortstop is used to.
"She is kind of a field general, I guess you could say, for the infield," Price said. "She's in a big spot, big role and she has embraced it."
Salazar played some short stop last year, but this season is the first she has been the primary shortstop for East. Previously, she has played second and third bases, as well as shortstop. She has even been behind home plate for some games.
"She's a great athlete," Price said of Salazar. "She has done it all for us."
While she had the experience and talent to play one of the game's toughest positions, it wasn't always easy for Salazar.
"I was struggling at the beginning with routine plays, but I've gotten better," Salazar said. "I just practiced the routine plays and eventually it came back to me."
The last time East and West met on the softball field, the Lady Titans won 3-0 after recording 10 hits. However, none of those came from Salazar.
That stat figures to change after Salazar's bat has heated up in recent games. In last Thursday night's loss to Gregory-Portland, Salazar reached base once on an error and again on an infield single. She was able to cross home plate both times.
There are already plenty of storylines and emotions involved when East and West meet in any sport and this being the last time former Memorial High School teammates will meet on the softball field, just adds to it.
However, despite the outcome, the relationship between the players won't change.
"On the field, we're enemies," Salazar said. "Off the field, though we're friends."