No change in the forecast -- Athletics/Mercado 18 Gold proving its strength, roll to 18u TV Power Pool victory
by Kyle Koso
WESTMINSTER, Colo. — At the highest level of softball you’ll see at the Colorado 4th of July event, pitchers need a fair dose of optimism to throw anything less than their hardest offerings.
But when Cambria Salmon is in her groove, batters have to be pessimistic about their chances.
Anchoring her approach in the circle for the Athletics-Mercado 18 Gold by throwing changeups repeatedly and relentlessly, Salmon tied up the Georgia Bombers with seven standout innings of work Wednesday as the Athletics secured a 9-1 victory in the 18u TV Power Pool game at Christopher Fields. Salmon, headed to play at the University of Texas in 2024, gave up five hits to go with six strikeouts and no walks, with one hit batter.
No doubt, with the Mercado offense muscling up behind her with six home runs, Salmon could do her job with full confidence. Even if the Bombers knew a changeup was coming, and there certainly was no mystery about it, Salmon kept the opposition tied in knots.
“In my honest opinion, it’s never been my best pitch. It usually comes around at this time of year, and it feels like this year, it’s really coming around,” Salmon said. “I am a lot more confident in it. I think knowing my pitch caller (assistant coach Mark Smith) knows what he’s doing … I trust him. It helps me have confidence the pitch, and to know it’s there for a reason. If I throw it right, it’ll do what it needs to do.”
The Bombers made real solid contact just twice, a home run from Savanna Bedell (a LSU commit) to lead off the second and a double by Karli Godwin (Oklahoma State).
Meanwhile, the Athletics needed a few innings to dial in offensively, but they rang up runs soon enough. Mya Perez (Texas A&M) led off the second with a homer; Makenzie Butt (Boise State) and Alexa Rosales (Ole Miss) each hit two-run shots in the fourth, and Priscilla Llamas (Ole Miss) and Jada Lewis (Arizona State) went yard in the fifth. Rosales notched her second home run of the night in the sixth.
“We maybe have to go through the lineup once to see the pitchers, seeing what they throw and what pitches we want to hit,” Rosales said. “After that, we’re good. My first one, hit it on the first pitch — I was looking in. Playing behind (Salmon) is amazing; she did really good in the circle and I’m happy to play behind her. I think I had just one ball (to right field) today.”
“(The offense) makes it so much easier. They add insurance runs, and you know that it’s OK if you happen to miss a pitch,” Salmon added.
Athletic coach Dave Mercado said this year’s group is one of his more explosive at the plate and agreed that once they get a look at a pitcher, they are very hard to keep down on the scoreboard.
“The Bombers have good pitching, so it’s going to take us a round or two to adjust to that,” he said. “I like it all with this group — we are pitching well, playing good defense and hitting the ball. Our offense is definitely one of the stronger ones we’ve had, and when the energy is up and we’re swinging like that, it’s tough to beat.”