Future within reach for senior

Published May 17, 2007

For a high school senior in May, the only plans are the best-laid ones, and Chelsea Chipoletti can't wait to put hers in motion.

"I think I'm nervous, " said the Hernando senior, who signed a letter of intent to play softball at Division II Newberry College Tuesday, "but I'm really excited."

Chipoletti has it all figured out. She is going to live on Newberry's campus just outside Columbia, S.C., play outfield for the Indians and begin working toward a career in communication.

If her high school career was any indication, she'll have some success.

As a junior, she hit .447 and led the team with 33 runs scored while striking out just once all season.

This year, she hit .360 with 19 runs scored and 14 RBIs. More importantly, she made two crucial position changes to help the Leopards.

First, Chipoletti switched from shortstop to outfield in the beginning of the season at the behest of Hernando coach Kevin Bittinger, allowing underclassman Demi Maldonado to get more playing time.

Then, when starting pitcher Katelyn Vanderham was sidelined with a chest injury, Chipoletti made four starts on the mound, going 3-0 with a 1.98 ERA.

"Most people who would have been asked to switch to outfield would have given us fits, " Bittinger said.

Hernando's brilliant 19-4 season ended with a disappointing loss to Zephyrhills in the Class 4A, District 8 semifinals. But while Chipoletti admits it was difficult seeing district rival Pasco reach the state championship game, her focus is mostly on the future.

"I want her to get her independence, " Chipoletti's mother, Laura Irwin, said. "She'll be far enough, but not too far."

Newberry went 34-25-1 and 12-14-1 in the South Atlantic Conference this season.

David Murphy can be reached at dmurphy@sptimes.com or 352 848-1407.