Paula Congleton didn’t have to look far to find one of her first recruits for the University of New Mexico softball team.
“I had just sent (Paula) a text saying how sorry I was to see her leave and it was going to be bittersweet,” said SBCC’s sophomore shortstop Monica Salas. “She calls me back and says, ‘I have a question for you. How would you like to come play for me at UNM?’ I was speechless and then, of course, I said yes.”
Salas signed her national letter-of-intent for a full-ride scholarship on Thursday afternoon in the SBCC Sports Pavilion. Congleton ended her 19-year run as SBCC’s softball coach last month and was named head coach at her alma mater, the Univ. of New Mexico, where she was a three-time All-American player.
Salas, a former Dos Pueblos High star, played outfield and catcher in her freshman year for the Vaqueros in 2016. She hit .434 with 38 RBIs and the Vaqueros posted the second-most wins in school history (30-14) and won their first Regional playoff series. They had their highest playoff finish ever — seventh in Southern Cal.
Salas hit .362 on this year’s 22-16 squad with six homers, 36 RBIs and a .621 slugging percentage. She batted .402 for her career with seven homers and 74 RBIs. She played shortstop for the 2017 Vaqueros with a few starts at second and third base.
She’s planning to move back to her natural position of second base for the Lobos. She hopes to major in Athletic Training.
“I just visited New Mexico last weekend and it’s a great campus,” Salas stated. “The community was very welcoming. The new coaching staff and new players are so ready to win again.”
She said she learned a lot in her time at SBCC.
“It definitely helped me grow, being here for three years,” she noted. “That helped make me the person I am today. I switched my major three times, from Early Childhood Education to Chemistry to Kinesiology and now Athletic Training.
“My experience at SBCC was great, I wouldn’t change a thing.”