By Matt Goisman
McALESTER — McAlester senior Cheyenne Selman started her senior year with high hopes. She’d led the 2012 Lady Buffaloes to a district championship and won District Pitcher of the Year as a junior, and she said Friday she’d hoped to accomplish even more.
But even before the season started, Selman said, she started feeling back pain. And then, about midway through the season, the pain got really bad.
After meeting with Landon Christy, a chiropractor in Denton, Tex., Selman learned she’d jammed the sacroiliac joint in her left hip.
“It was just jammed from the repeated jumping off and landing on my left leg,” Selman said.
“It kicked up again when were playing school ball at the Shawnee Tournament (from Aug. 29-30). ... From there on out, the pain just got worse and worse.”
The injury forced coach Justin Bond to shut down Selman as far as pitching, and she pitched just nine innings after Sept. 9. She continued batting, but the injury affected her swing as well, causing her batting average to drop from a season-high .517 on Sept. 9 to .396 at the end of the season.
“Swinging did hurt my back,” Selman said. “One of the things that Dr. Christy told me when I was down there, he said that when I was pitching, the reason I couldn’t throw strikes, is because subconsciously, I was changing the way I was pitching to work around the pain.”
Selman has been pitching since she was 7. Home-schooled through fifth grade, she played three years of softball with Frink-Chambers, winning a state title with Frink as a seventh-grade player, spent her eighth- and ninth-grade years at Savanna and then transferred to McAlester.
Unable to play varsity as a sophomore because of her transfer, Selman played on the JV team. She became the team’s pitching ace and one of its best hitters as a junior, enjoying the tight bonds formed with her teammates.
“In school ball, you’re with each other every day, and sometimes on the weekends,” Selman said. “So you really have lasting friendships.”
Not just a school softball player, Selman typically spent her offseasons on various travel teams such as Tulsa Elite Gold, which last summer went to the ASA/USA Softball Gold National Championship in Clearwater, Fla. Along the way, Selman said she’s developed eight distinct pitches: screwball, curveball, riseball, dropball, fastball, changeup, slow curve and inside curve.
Selman said she likes pitching because “the way the game goes reflects on how you’re doing and your attitude, and not only on how you’re pitching, but how you’re carrying yourself.”
With so much of her game tied into her pitching, Selman found her injury frustrating. The Lady Buffs went 1-14 to finish the season, 10 times giving up eight or more runs with pitchers other than Selman.
The Lady Buffs head to Claremore today for their Regional tournament, and Selman will pitch there. She said she asked not to pitch the last week of the regular season to maximize her rest heading into Regionals, where the Lady Buffs will need at least three wins to qualify for State.
“I’m sure I’m going to hurt at Regionals,” Selman said. “I know I am, but hopefully I can last longer in the game before I start hurting.”
However this senior season ends, it won’t be the end of Selman’s softball career. She verbally committed to the University of Central Oklahoma around the beginning of 2013, and said UCO’s coach assured her earlier in the season that the injury wouldn’t affect her scholarship.
Wanting to stay relatively close to home, UCO seemed like the ideal school. The Bronchos winning the 2013 NCAA Division II softball championship also helped.
Both Selman’s parents, she said, have been big supporters of her softball career. Her mother Kerry has been a mainstay at both McAlester and travel-ball games, going as far away as Clearwater to watch her daughter, while her father Ross used to coach her and has been a big supporter when his truck-driving job allows it.
Ross also gave Cheyenne her nickname of “Mo.” She said that as a baby the hair in the middle of her head tended to stick up, leading Ross to nickname her “Mohique,” which has since been shortened.
As the smallest of silver linings to this frustrating final year, Selman’s experience rehabbing her jammed SI joint has cemented her career plans. She said she plans to major in kinesthesiology, then transfer to another school and complete her certification as a physical therapist.
“I don’t like not knowing what’s going on,” Selman said. “I want to know what’s hurting and what I can do to help it, but I had already wanted to pursue being a physical therapist.
“I just couldn’t picture myself leaving sports. I just always wanted to be involved, and I want to help other athletes.”
Senior year could’ve gone differently for one of the better pitchers to come through McAlester’s softball program. But heading into Regionals as healthy as she can be, Selman has a chance to end the season on a high note.
Contact Matt Goisman at email@example.com.