Posted: March 21, 2015 | Written by James H. Williams
Former Riverside City College pitcher Chelsea Ponce remains a star on the mound in the local area.
Ponce pitched a no-hitter for the Highlanders in its game against Bethune Cookman, 7–0, on March 21.
During the no-hitter, Ponce faced 24 batters to earn the victory and moved to 18–3 overall on the mound. She also continued her streak of six games without giving up a run.
The no-hitter by Ponce was the first in UC Riverside’s NCAA Division I history.
Ponce gave credit to her family and the support they have shown in her success this season including her recent no-hitter.
“Honestly I was thinking about my husband and daughter. They give me the fight, the faith and strength to be where I am right now,” she said. ‘I did not think about a no-hitter. I was all about having fun.”
Her performance this season also has her as the single-season leader in victories for the UCR program during its Division I stint. She is ranked in the Nation’s Top 3 in victories this season.
Ponce picked up her 17th win pitching a 2-hitter, the day prior to the no-hitter, when she defeated Fairleigh Dickinson, 3–0. She also had 11 strikeouts in the win.
For Ponce, familiarities have helped draw similar success on the mound much like her time at RCC.
After Ponce redshirted the 2014 season with the Highlanders and the preparation for the 2015 season began, Jose Ortega was hired onto the UCR softball staff as an assistant coach.
Ortega was a member of the coaching staff for the RCC softball program as an associate head coach under Michelle Daddona since 2006.
The hire reunited Ortega and Ponce, who were at RCC for both the 2011 and 2013 seasons.
“I love Jose. I am so happy to be on this journey with him,” she stated. “I got so excited (when he was hired). It was like I have my partner back.”
Ortega and Ponce’s chemistry has developed into what can be portrayed as a father-daughter relationship on the field.
“Her sophomore year at RCC, a competing coach asked Chelsea if she was my daughter,” he said. “Every once in a while she’ll call me dad remembering that coaches comment.”
Ortega recalled recruiting Ponce out of San Bernardino Cajon High in 2010 and her development over the years as a player.
“As a pitcher when I recruited her I saw a tall lanky kid who threw pretty hard,” he explained. “To see her go from a kid coming out of high school to the young woman she is now is amazing and I am blessed to be part of it.”
Despite the friendship from the love of softball, Ortega believes Ponce’s developement was a team effort along with the effort and dedication she has put in on her own.
“With the help of coach Kristy Webb (at RCC) and now coach Jodie Cox (of UCR) she has developed into an incredible pitcher,” he explained. “The movement and speed in her pitches right now is far better than where she was as a freshman.”
Ponce agrees with Ortega in the sense of her success being a group effort from as far back as the earliest part of her collegiate career.
“I miss RCC. RCC got me to UCR and without RCC I don’t know where I would be without coach Daddona, coach Ortega, coach Sarah and coach Webb.”
Following her recent no hitter, Ponce has been named the Big West Softball Pitcher of the Week for games played March 16-22.
“I came to UCR to build something and set records so that they can get broken,” she explained. “I want to believe that even when you have bumps in the road…you can get over them and make them better.”