Although shy and unsure of herself on and off the field, Melanie Richardson of Camarillo High had her opponents fooled this season.
Richardson, a 5-foot-4 senior dynamo, is perhaps the best junk pitcher in the region and a wonderful complement to the other sensational pitcher at Camarillo, hard-throwi Ball.
But, truth be told, Richardson is a nervous wreck in the pitching circle, convinced that she will fail.
“I have a lot more confidence when Cindy is pitching,” said Richardson, who nearly didn’t return for her senior season.
Interesting statement considering that Richardson, who helped lead Camarillo to the championship game of the Southern Section Division I playoffs, is The Times’ Ventura County pitcher of the year.
A lack of confidence is usually not conducive to a strong pitching performance. Apparently, Richardson is the exception to the rule.
Richardson has played in the shadow of her sister, Laura, since she started throwing at age 5.
As a sophomore in 1991, Laura led the Scorpions to a section title, and there in the bleachers was Melanie, hiding her eyes, afraid Laura would fail.
But if this season is any indication, it would seem Richardson thrives on the fear of failure.
The right-hander with a deceiving changeup allowed only 21 hits and three earned runs in 92 innings and had an 0.23 earned-run average.
She struck out 138 and walked 29 and finished with a record of 10-1, nine of her victories by shutout.
After last season, when she went 11-2 with a 1.03 ERA, Richardson thought she would pass on her senior season in order to work and save money.
She didn’t see softball in her future and thought she should get a jump in the other direction.
But in the end, she chose to return for her last year and in the process gained new perspective on the sport.
“I realized when you do good, you like it more,” she said.