Cambria Salmon said she learned to throw every pitch with purpose during her sophomore season.
Salmon impressed during her freshman campaign with the Beaumont High School softball team last season, but even she admitted to being more of a thrower than a pitcher in her debut season at the high school level. Salmon was determined to make the full transition this season.
“I thought about how last season ended, and I didn’t like it,” said Salmon, referring to a 3-2 loss to Etiwanda in the first round of the playoffs. “I missed a pitch and that ended up being the difference in us winning or losing.
“Every pitch matters. You can throw 99 perfect pitches, but that one missed pitch can turn the game around.”
Salmon rarely missed this season and delivered one of the most dominant seasons by an Inland pitcher in recent years. She had a 19-4 record inside the circle and finished with a 0.54 ERA and 309 strikeouts in 160 1/3 innings. Salmon also batted .338 with five home runs and a team-high 19 RBIs.
For these reasons, Salmon has been selected the IE Varsity Softball Player of the Year.
Salmon had to be at the top of her game, as Beaumont found itself in a number of nail-biters throughout the season. The Cougars played in 10 games that were decided by one run and four other games were decided by two or three runs.
All four of Salmon’s losses were 1-0 defeats, and she allowed a combined 11 hits during those games. Salmon did not surrender a run in 13 appearances and gave up more than two runs in a game only once.
“There was a lot of pressure pitching in so many close games like that, but you just have to trust your stuff and continue to do the job your supposed to do,” Salmon said. “Softball can be a game of failures, but if you do your part to the best of your ability, you can walk away with your head held high.”
Salmon has an impressive repertoire of pitches, including a fast-moving rise ball that often has opposing batters chasing air. However, she kept hitters guessing this season and raised her strikeout total by mixing in her other pitches. Salmon became the first Inland pitcher to reach 300 strikeouts in a season since Yucaipa’s Brooke Bolinger accomplished the feat in 2015.
“I believe I got smarter as a pitcher and learned how to hit my spots more consistently,” Salmon said. “You can’t rely on one pitch when you’re facing good hitters. They eventually will make all of the adjustments and catch up. This season, I wanted to improve my spin and movement and make my off-speed pitches just as strong as the rise.”
Beaumont has had success on the softball diamond in the past — the Cougars made back-to-back appearances in the CIF Southern Section finals in 2011 and 2012 — but the program is not well known outside of the Inland Empire. That changed this season, as Salmon and the Cougars held their own against some of the state’s top teams at the prestigious Michelle Carew Classic.
“We want to put Beaumont softball on a larger map, and I believe we have started to do that,” Salmon said.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Mike Smith, Roosevelt
Smith has guided the Mustangs to new heights during his five-year tenure with the program. Roosevelt won the Big VIII League title for the first time and also claimed its first CIF Southern Section crown.
The Mustangs did the latter in thrilling fashion, scoring four runs in the bottom of the seventh to stun Los Alamitos and capture the Division 1 championship with a 5-4 victory. Smith made history with that win, as he became the first softball coach in section history to lead three programs to titles (also Chino Hills and Chino).
The Mustangs also advanced to the CIF State Division I regional championship game and nearly pulled off another come-from-behind win before falling to Oaks Christian. Roosevelt set a program record with 29 victories.
IE Varsity First Team
P: Giselle Bentley, Centennial, Sr.
P: Caylea Rains-Campbell, Murrieta Mesa, Jr.
P: Cambria Salmon, Beaumont, So.
P: Brooklyn Shroyer, Bonita, Jr.
P: Jada Villegas, Cajon, So.
C: Jasmyn Burns, Murrieta Mesa, Jr.
C: Alexia Lopez, Roosevelt, Sr.
IF: Samantha Bland, Chino Hills, Jr.
IF: Kaylynn Jones, Roosevelt, So.
IF: Kayla Lyon, Roosevelt, Sr.
IF: Emma Martinez, Yucaipa, Sr.
IF: Ramsey Suarez, Great Oak, Sr.
IF: Jailey Wilson, Etiwanda, Jr.
OF: Abby Dayton, Norco, Sr.
OF: Taelyn Holley, Murrieta Mesa, Fr.
OF: Regan Shockey, Chino Hills, Jr.
OF: Alayah Toscano, Centennial, Sr.
UT: Paige Cowley, Upland, Sr.
UT: Priscilla Llamas, Roosevelt, So.
UT: Mya Perez, Norco, Jr.
IE Varsity Second Team
P: Ovionna Hayes, Don Lugo, So.
P: Bri Garcia, Riverside Poly, Sr.
P: Selena Gallegos, San Jacinto, So.
P: Miali Gauchino, Great Oak, So.
C: Saige Alexander, Yucaipa, Sr.
C: Elle Komara, Etiwanda, Jr.
C: Brooklyn Lee, Western Christian, Jr.
IF: Melody Acevedo, Hillcrest, Fr.
IF: Mercedes Alba, Cajon, Jr.
IF: Jaeya Butler, Aquinas, Jr.
IF: Alyssa Doucette, Bonita, So.
IF: Katlyn Gifford, Ramona, Sr.
IF: Alyssa Hovermale, Norco, Jr.
IF: Ci’ella Pickett, Redlands East Valley, Fr.
OF: Jaden Colunga, Grand Terrace, Sr.
OF: Jaelin Haynes, Citrus Valley, Sr.
OF: Ashleigh Mejia, Santiago, So.
OF: Mariah Vargas, Rancho Cucamonga, So.
UT: Jenna Peters, Temescal Canyon, Sr.
UT: Cassidy Shaw, Heritage, Jr.