What do you need, bro? You need a clutch hit? A key fielding gem? A bunt at the perfect time to ignite a rally? Or how about just 24/7 spirit, hustle and determination to be the best?
Whatever it is, just call Kristee Salas, because she can do it all. The EHS senior-to-be has been a sparkplug for three seasons and will head into her last one with extra momentum, having signed to play at Texas A&M-Kingsville next year. There she will pair with ex teammate Amber Reyes and crosstown pal Natalie Rodriguez of North, and Salas, a versatile gamer who has played multiple positions and come through in multiple situations for the Lady Bobcats, will seek to bring her special brand of softball to the next level.
It is a brand that is equal parts ability and skill, with a healthy dose of attitude to stir the mix. Salas has always been the guts of the team, the heart and the barometer, keeping her teammates loose and motivated, being active and loud and fun. Tuesday as she signed, she thanked several coaches for helping her achieve a lifetime dream.
One was Kevin Knipe, the legendary club coach who has a unique place in Salas’ universe.
“He believed in me, he’s been my rock, my second dad,” said the ebullient infielder, who hit a sweet .441 last year with six bombs. “He saw something in me, potential-wise before anyone else, and I will always be grateful to him for all he’s done.”
Then there’s Ramon Arciba, about to begin another season at the helm of the Lady ‘Cats. He and Salas are both type A personalities, but it’s worked out well for everyone.
“Coach and I have bumped heads, it’s true,” she laughed. “But we have found a way to meet in the middle, I bring ideas and suggestions and he interprets them in his own way. I think we have worked well together.”
Salas is the latest in a long line of Lady ‘Cats who have made the grade for a shot at college ball, joining teammate Maya Zavala, who signed with Texas Southern recently; Erika Cortez is next in line and will probably ink with UTSA in January. Each of them brings something cool to the table, from Zavala’s wheels and athleticism to Cortez’ power and fire. Salas is the kid who always does the dirty work, playing anywhere she’s needed, sacrificing with skill and grace, and proving to be a tough out when the game is on the line. She says that she’s always tried to provide a bit of energy to any team she’s been a part of.
“The feeling we got with the Heat was special, my job was to be reliable and every one of the girls has your back on that team,” she said. “It’s carried over to Bobcats too, I think that we have a nice feeling there too, and when we get it all together, we can be unstoppable.”
Which leads us to discussion of the 2019 season, fast approaching, Salas will be the first to admit that 2018 was not what the girls had in mind.
“We were left with an ugly taste, no doubt,” she said, recalling how EHS dominated the Valley only to drop out of the playoffs in the second round. “This year we’re after some revenge, we are going to come out and be hungry to win, no mercy at all. We’ll play every day like it’s a one-game series, every time, and we plan on doing way better than we did last year.
“This school has softball tradition, every year is good, and now we want to come out and live up to the expectations we always have.”
NOTES: In girls’ basketball action Tuesday, EHS clobbered Weslaco East, 76-24 while Vela dispatched Econ, 65-29. North was clipped by Donna North, 55-47, dropping to 0-2 ahead of Friday’s showdown against the Lady Bobcats.