While Chelsey Dunham fell short of capturing a state championship with the South County softball team, the pitcher’s personal achievements were staggering.
She struck out a school-record 1,007 batters during her four years with the Stallions. She lost only two games during her final two seasons. As a senior, she went 25-1 with 21 shutouts and was named Northern Region Pitcher of the Year.
Even though her high school career ended on June 2 with a loss to McLean in the regional semifinals, Dunham has continued adding to her softball accolades.
On June 9, Dunham was named the 2010 Virginia Softball Gatorade Player of the Year. The honor is given to the top softball player in each state and Washington, D.C.
"It was really exciting," Dunham said of being informed of the honor. "I was kind of shocked, to be honest. There are a lot of great softball athletes in Virginia. … It was just an honor to be nominated."
The award put an exclamation point on her prep career. The right-hander said she’ll remember the friendships and she built with other members of the South County program and appreciates the support she received from the Stallion coaching staff. One moment that stood out to her was when she recorded career strikeout No. 1,000 during a regional quarterfinal game against Stone Bridge. After asking the umpire for permission to stop the game, head coach Al Thompson had the ball removed from play and wrote the date — May 31 — and "1,000" on the keepsake.
"It was exciting, but I tried not to think too much about it because the game was still going," Dunham said. "It was 0-0. We hadn’t won anything yet."
Striking out 1,000 batters is one her favorite accomplishments.
"I think it’s kind of awesome, personally," she said. "To be honest, I didn’t really know I had that many until we had five games left in our season. I asked one of our coaches how many I had. … I really wanted to break 1,000. It was really neat to break."
Dunham will continue her softball career as a pitcher at Yale University. She is taking part in her summer workout, has already received her dorm assignment and will report to the Ivy League institution in New Haven, Conn., on Aug. 27. Dunham will study bio medical engineering.
"I’m just excited I got in and I get to play there," she said.