WJU’s Chapman Earns 500th K
Senior reached milestone on Feb. 25
WHEELING–It has been a long journey to 500 strikeouts for Wheeling Jesuit pitcher Mallory Chapman, but she has enjoyed that ride surrounded by people who care about her the most.
Throughout every step of her remarkable softball career, Chapman has been supported by her family, coaches and teammates, who have always helped her succeed.
The southpaw reached the 500 strikeout plateau on Feb. 25 at the ESPN World of Sports facility in Orlando, Fla., in a 7-1 victory over Dominican College but the road to 500 started four years ago when she was introduced to coach Sara Pelegreen.
Pelegreen was also entering her first year at Jesuit as an assistant coach but took over head coaching duties a season ago and has made a great impact on Chapman’s collegiate career.
“It means a lot to me to get 500 strikeouts,” Chapman said. “I have really worked hard at this and I owe it all to my team and coaches.
“Coach Pelegreen came in my freshman year and really helped me so much as a pitcher.”
Another gift Chapman received as an incoming freshman could be found behind the dish.
Catcher Victoria Scott, a standout backstop at Willoughby South, was also joining the program as a freshman and the camaraderie between the two could be seen immediately.
“Victoria is so great behind the plate,” Chapman said. “We came in together and both started as freshmen and we are still the battery.
“She has helped me so much. I have never played with a catcher that is as smart as she is. She has been such a blessing to have behind the plate.”
Scott and Pelegreen have worked together on every aspect of the game and have focused on every detail of their machanics.
Chapman has been clocked at firing her fastest pitch at 70 MPH but to keep opposing hitters off balance, the battery mates have established a nasty changeup.
“We have really worked on my changeup this year,” Chapman said. “That is one reason why we have been so successful. Our conference has some really good hitters and we have to keep them off balance.
“We are not afraid to throw it on any count. We threw it last week during a 3-2 count and we got the strikeout. We work on it a lot in practice and we just find different ways that pitches move.”
The New Martinsville native’s success began at a young age as she gave opposing hitters nightmares in the circle at Magnolia.
She graduated high school as the Blue Eagles’ leader in career strikeouts but once again, Chapman gave all the credit to one of her role models.
Pitching coach Danny Tyler of Paden City coached with her father, Dave “Doc” Chapman, and saw the potential the lefty possessed.
“Danny has been there since day-one,” Mallory Chapman said. “He is the biggest reason why I am where I am today. He took the time when I was nine or 10 years old to help me.
“To this day, I still get together with him when I go home for break. I am so thankful that he believed in me and worked with me for all of those years.”
A season ago, Pelegreen praised Chapman for her unparalleled work ethic, a tool that the Magnolia graduate has continued to utilize during the offseason.
The Cardinals brought in a new Graduate Assistant in Taylor Parsons during the winter, who has helped Chapman grow into an even harder worker in the gym and a more dominant pitcher in the circle.
“Taylor Parsons came in as our strength coach and made our whole team stronger in the weight room,” Mallory Chapman said. “She helped us with our conditioning for the physical demand that will be put on us this year.
“That has a lot to do with what I can do now. I am so much stronger and am in the best shape I’ve ever been in. I give her a lot of credit.”
As much help as Parsons has provided for the Cards’ ace, much credit should also be handed to Chapman for her drive and determination to get better every day.
“The work is the hardest part but it is also the best part,” Mallory Chapman said. “They call it hard work for a reason. You have to get up early and go to bed late but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
“It’s paying off now, not only for myself but for my team and the so many people who have been helping me through the years.
“I still remember my parents sitting on buckets just to catch for me.”
Chapman’s senior campaign has just got underway but with the stellar performances she has brought to the table so far, it’s hard not to look towards the future.
“I have been asked about playing overseas and I am looking into that,” Mallory Chapman said. “It would be a lot of fun to continue playing.
“Another route is that I have had coaches approach me about being a Graduate Assistant. But for right now, my main focus is on the season and trying to win an MEC Championship.”