Thursday, April 17, 2014
Heidi Shaw was quite the power hitter at Maranacook. Opposing teams routinely pushed their outfielders and infielders back whenever the Black Bears' catcher and cleanup hitter strolled to the plate.
CATCHING ON: Former Maranacook Community School catcher Heidi Shaw has become a slap-hitting switch hitter at Husson University.
Contributed photo by Monty Rand
Stats: Hitting .276 with an RBI and four steals
"Yeah, I was a home run hitter," Shaw said. "It's kind of funny how it changed."
And, boy, did it change for the Manchester native.
Shaw, 20, is a sophomore and starting catcher for the Husson University softball team. She handles a diverse pitching staff and is one of the leaders for the Eagles, the four-time defending North Atlantic Conference champs who are off to a 4-8 start.
She isn't, however, a home run hitter anymore.
"They changed me a lot here," Shaw said. "I went through a huge transformation as far as a hitter."
In two years Shaw went from being a right-handed power hitter to a switch-hitting slap hitter.
Her days batting clean up are pretty much over.
"I tried slapping every once in awhile in high school," Shaw said. "I knew I could hit left-handed but it was a skill that was always on the back burner. But Coach (Amanda Bourgoin) figured out I had some speed and she completely changed me into a switch hitter. It's been great. Last year, as a freshman, I was just trying to feel my way around. Now, my goals are more clear. I know what I have to do."
What she has to do, of course, is still produce, even offensively.
So far, so good.
Shaw is hitting .276 with an RBI in 12 games. All eight of her hits are singles. Shaw also has four steals and has struck out just once in 29 at-bats.
"I hit mostly seventh but my role in the batting order is always subject to change," Shaw said. "My role is to provide whatever is needed at the time. I know I have to hit the ball hard. I'm just so driven to win."
Shaw, a pre-pharmacy major who hit .311 last season, starts behind the plate for a second consecutive season. She has become more vocal this season as she settles into the program.
"This year compared to last year, it's so much different," she said. "I came in way more confident in myself. As a freshman, there are so many new things on your plate. I saw things on the field I had never seen happen before. It took a little time to get used to everything but now I feel like I'm putting it all together.
"But now I know all the plays and I know the team better. I worked hard in the offseason and really practiced all parts of my game."
The Eagles have won at least 25 games in each of the last four seasons. They finished 33-13 last season and qualified for the NCAA Division III playoffs.
Husson opened the season in Georgia and Florida with 10 games. The Eagles home opener is scheduled for today, a doubleheader against Southern Maine.
"We have the talent," Shaw said. "We just have to put it all together. We have to find that right chemistry."
Bill Stewart -- 621-5640