Athlete of the Week: Chelsea Thoke
No stranger to Crimson Athlete of the Week honors, senior softball pitcher Chelsea Thoke usually receives the distinction because of her amazing performances on the mound.
This week, however, Thoke claims the honor as much for her work at the plate as on the mound.
Over the weekend—a crucial one for the Crimson, as it drew even in the loss column with Ivy leaders Cornell and Dartmouth—Thoke won two games and hit two home runs.
The power surge is unfamiliar for Thoke. She had only one career home run coming into this season.
“It’s definitely been a bit of a surprise for me,” Thoke said. “I’m just seeing the ball really well now.”
Thoke smacked one home run against Brown on Saturday and one against Yale on Sunday. She now has four on the season, and her strength at the plate has earned her a spot in the line-up even when she isn’t on the mound.
Against Brown on Saturday, Thoke pitched 6.1 innings, and struck out nine Bear batters. That sort of performance is almost expected of Thoke, the Crimson’s all-time strikeout leader.
What was not expected was the second-inning blast to left field that propelled Harvard to a 6-2 win.
“It’s easier for me to hit, because everyone doesn’t expect a lot from me,” Thoke said. “I’m expected to hit, of course, but I can stay more relaxed than someone whose sole job it is to hit.”
The contest against the Bulldogs yielded the same results. Thoke pitched a sparkling six innings, striking out seven. In the second frame, she again connected for a home run.
Thoke attributes her strong hitting performance not only to practice, but her ability to predict pitches.
“As a pitcher, I can do some guesswork about what I’m going to get thrown,” Thoke said. “I think about what I’d throw, and that’s what I see. Both home runs [this weekend] were off pitches that I guessed correctly.”
If Thoke’s hunches stay on target, Harvard just might pull off its second straight Ivy title.