By Jeremy McDonald
NEWBERG, Ore.– West Salem’s Mia Zachary has been on a rail this Summer as the Titan softball player has finally come around as a left-handed hitter. Finding her groove for both the Oregon Rebels 18U and the West Salem Titans 16U squads the past few weeks. Pointing towards this past big Travel Softball Tournament in Palmdale as Zachary and her Rebel teammates battle the 100-plus degree heat in Southern California.
“I’ve just gotten so much better and so much more confident in myself and just how I play. In my last big tournament was in Palmdale and I went .631 batting average for the weekend. I just feel like I got so much more confidence, I feel like more like a leader I guess when it comes to my team stuff,” the incoming West Salem senior said.
The switch in her hitting approach came in 2020 when she was with the NW Vandals, pointing towards the struggles of slap hitting as a switch hitter that she made the switch to focus on batting from one side of the plate over being a switch hitter.
“I was like ‘yeah, I need to pick a side’. I couldn’t switch hit. That wasn’t my thing, I had to choose my right hand or my left hand and thankfully choose my left hand because I’ve done so much better with that,” said Zachary. “I’ve been fully swinging for about a year, but have been slapping for two years.”
Working on her own by going to the cages or the field to get extra work in, receiving private hitting lessons, and weight lifting three times a week. Anything possible honestly to get better and improve. And the results are slowly coming around this Summer.
All for the love of the game and the Palmdale performance was just one of the glimpses that the West Salem infielder, who’s also played outfield and caught the past three seasons, had this Summer. Not to mention hitting four home runs, three were over the fence while the fourth was an inside-the-park variety. That one occured when the right fielder played extremely in and Zachary sent a hit over the right fielders head and Zachary used her speed to make the accomplishment happen.
“I’m doing something softball-related four days, five days a week. All depending on my time and stuff,” Zachary said. “And when I’m not doing something softball related, I’m lifting three days a week, 7:30 in the morning. Every week. With my skill and my size I need to do that because things people are given like strength and stuff, I wasn’t so I had to do that myself.
“There’s a lot of things that I had to do myself if I wanted to compete at the highest level possible.”
Call it a fire, call it passion, call it drive but one thing is for certain, Zachary is determined to be the best version of herself when it’s all said and done one the softball diamond. And it stems from people who have doubted her in the past.
“Just the drive that I want to be better. I’ve been told my whole softball career that I’m too weak, that I’m not strong enough to play. But now that I know I can use my speed and now that I’m getting strength I can hit, I can slap, I can bunt. I’m really good at base running,” laughs Zachary. “Just little things that I was able to tweak and fix that will make me a better and stronger player.”
And now entering her senior season with the Titans, Zachary hopes to be a senior voice that West can turn to as they are expecting to return the bulk of their 2022 season squad this upcoming Spring in the retooled Central Valley Conference after going 12-15 this past Spring.
“It’ll be huge…Just being another senior leader for West, it’ll be good. It’ll just give me more confidence in my game and being able to help other people,” said Zachary, who was a second-team All Mountain Valley Conference catcher in 2022.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald