Arm of gold

Rebel’s Valdez celebrates Pitcher of the Year honor 

Following success in 2017, Hays High pitcher Maxine Valdez understood there was a need for growth in her game.

By advancing her skills, and continuing to put a lot of trust in her teammates, Valdez was able to reap the rewards earlier this month when she was named the 25-6A Pitcher of the Year.

And while Valdez was excited to earn the accolade, she also understands the need for additional growth as she hopes to lead the Rebel softball program in her senior campaign.

“It was a lot of excitement,” Valdez said about learning of her achievement. “The coaches, they told all of us as a team.”

In her third season pitching on varsity, Valdez finished the season with a 15-5 record and a 1.12 earned run average (ERA). She recorded 202 strikeouts over the 119 innings pitched in 24 games played. Not only was Valdez dominant in the circle, but she also led the team with a .421 batting average and with 7 homeruns on 24 hits at the plate.

“Well, I knew I grew a lot from last year,” Valdez said. “Last year I was hurting a lot in my hips and this year it was easier to get through it. I took better care of myself. Mentally I grew and I learned to focus more on the task at hand and trusting my defense more than I did my freshman year.”

For Hays, Valdez was a key piece to the puzzle for reaching the playoffs in 2018. Valdez says her best pitch is her rise-ball, but she has also been working on off-speed pitches. One of Valdez’s highlights of the season came on a 17-strikeout shutout against Lehman late in district play.

Earlier this year Valdez committed to pitch for the Lubbock Christian University softball program. Although she has been receiving interest from other universities, she says that she is 100 percent committed to LCU and is happy with her decision. Her connection with the LCU coaching staff was a key part in her decision making process.

“I like Lubbock Christian because it is small, it reminded me of home,” said Valdez. “The coaches are great. They seem really interested in me, so that’s kind of why I chose where I chose.”

Heading into the off-season, Valdez wants to gain more leg strength and focus on getting a better drive off the mound. She also said staying healthy was one of her main objectives moving forward.

Hays will return a loaded roster for the 2019 season. They will also aim to surpass the area round of the playoffs, of which the team has exited the last two seasons.

Valdez says her primary goal for next season is to make a run in the playoffs and make it to the state tournament.

“I’m looking forward to just playing ball,” Valdez said. “I want to accomplish going to the state and making it there this year.”

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