Majam provides power source at leadoff spot
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
University of Hawai'i softball player Kelly Majam grew up in a California mountain town that does not have any stoplights.
Fittingly, as the Rainbow Wahine's leadoff hitter, she is given the green light to swing away.
UH head coach Bob Coolen's trust in Majam, a second-year freshman center fielder, has paid off.
Majam and Georgia Tech's Jen Yee are tied for first nationally with 18 home runs.
"That's definitely a blessing," Majam said. "It's really cool. I never thought I would."
At 5 feet 3, Majam does not fit the swatter's profile. Most left-handed leadoff batters are slap hitters who use their quickness to leg out infield hits.
"That's not Kelly," Coolen said. "She's a hitter."
Coolen knew that during the recruiting process. During the 2008 fall training, Majam batted second or third during scrimmages. But she suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament while sliding in a fall scrimmage, and did not play during the 2009 season.
Following an intensive rehabilitation program, Majam returned to full health. Coolen then named her as successor to leadoff hitter Tanisha Milca.
"It was a no-brainer," Coolen said. "I wanted to give her a lot of at-bats. I wanted her to be the leadoff dagger-in-the-heart hitter who can hit home runs or get on base. I wasn't concerned about who was going to lead off. I was concerned about who was going to follow her."
Majam was admittedly nervous about living up to high expectations. She struggled during the Rainbows' season-opening tournament.
"I definitely felt the pressure," Majam said.
Because UH relies mostly on in-game adjustments rather than scouting reports, Majam is usually the test case.
"That part is definitely hard," she said. "I've been struggling with my first at-bat."
But she has been able to adjust, mostly because of the bat speed she generates from a full-bodied swing. Her bat speed has been measured at 70 mph. She uses a 24-ounce, two-piece bat.
"When she swings, you can actually see the bat flexing," Coolen said. "She can crush the ball."
Majam is on track to break Kate Robinson's team record of 21 home runs in a season. She isn't thinking about that — or much else — except for the next pitch.
"Sometimes I over-analyze everything," Majam said. "I just need to see the pitch all the way, and not try to guess where it's going to end up."