An Oregon State commit since her sophomore year, Shadinger recently completed an epic fouryear run with the Camarillo High softball team.
She’s bound for Corvallis, Ore., which in Latin translates to “heart of the valley.”
It’s only fitting that a player with a big heart and a big game will make her home in a Beaver State city nestled in the Willamette Valley, an hour car ride from the Pacific Ocean.
“I couldn’t resist the offer,” Shadinger said.
Shadinger, 18, helped the Scorpions make a solid postseason scamper this spring. She will forever be linked, however, to the 2011 Camarillo squad that secured the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 championship.
The Scorpions steamrolled through the competition en route to a Pacific View League title and section crown. The squad handled off-field adversity with aplomb.
“After all the stuff that happened, I felt we clicked,” Shadinger said. “We connected. And we started winning. . . .
“We connected with Jack that year. We saw a very emotional side of Jack, but he never brought it to the field.”
A poignant moment occurred on the eve of the playoffs.
Shadinger was throwing in the bullpen with Bianca Noriega during practice.
“There was a huge rainbow in the sky,” Shadinger said. “Then little ones would appear. Every time we see one, we’d say, ‘There’s Lola watching us.’”
Willard reflected on the difficult chapter in his life, aided in part by his players.
“I had my own things to deal with, the loss of my mom,” Willard said. “She struggled for a long time with cancer. That was hard to watch. Our team and coaching staff, they were really supportive of me and my family.
“Any time we’ve had those types of situations, our team has always responded. Our families and parents always respond and try to help out whoever might be in need. I don’t think we talked about (my mom’s death) as a team. This was just them wanting to do something for me. . . . They were incredibly unselfish.”
With Lola in their hearts and minds, the Scorpions marched into the final game of 2011 against La Mirada.
When Noriega belted a home run, Shadinger knew Camarillo was prepared to seize the day.
“We had to do it if we came that far,” she said.
ACHS won 5-1 on a four-hit complete game from Shadinger.
Scorpion players reveled competing alongside the flamethrower with the mighty arm.
“She came out to practice every day to work hard and get better,” said Noriega, who graduated with Shadinger on June 8.
Noriega will pitch and patrol first base at Cal State Monterey Bay.
“She kept us in many games. We had her back on the field and at the plate,” Noriega said of Shadinger. “She has that spark in her. When she comes out to play, she’s determined to win. She was a key player for us. She always gets everyone going.”
Willard agreed with Noriega’s assessment of Shadinger.
“She brought an intensity to each and every game, whether she was pitching or not,” the skipper said. “When you hand somebody the ball like that and have her go pitch, you know you have a chance to win every game you’re in. Her ability gave our team a tremendous feeling of confidence.
“I really enjoyed watching her grow as an individual, as a young lady, as someone who every year became a better and better teammate.”
Shadinger endeared herself to teammates with her warm personality.
“She’s funny, outgoing and loves to have a good time,” Noriega said. “She’s there for you no matter what.”
In the circle, Shadinger turns into Wonder Woman with each thunderous whip of her arm.
She throws nasty screwballs and vicious curveballs for strikes. If she’s ahead in the count, she’ll bait batters with riseballs.
The ace will continue working on her velocity, movement and conditioning.
Shadinger wants to vie for a starting spot in the Beavers’ rotation.
With a taste of a Southern Section glory, she’s also got her eyes set on a Women’s College World Series crown.
“I want to win a championship,” said Shadinger, who plans to study criminology at Oregon State. “I want to have fun and help the program out.”
Although Camarillo’s playoff run ended in the quarterfinals this season, Shadinger made sure to enjoy her senior campaign.
For the first time, Shadinger tried out and earned a spot on the golf team, thanks to some prodding from good friend and golfer Camille Jones.
Shadinger also collected $200 on a dare from family members: Upon receiving her diploma, Shadinger performed a pitching windup and pointed out her family in attendance—in front of thousands of people.
“My family went crazy,” she said. “It was a good way to go out. They didn’t believe I was going to do that. I couldn’t believe that myself. Gosh!”
The daughter of Kim and Mark, Shadinger’s older sisters Amy and Brooke starred for the ACHS softball program.
Amy played at Jamestown College in North Dakota while Brooke suited up at Grace College in Indiana before a concussion forced her out of the sport. Sarah and Brooke played together for two years with the Scorpions.
Sarah Shadinger is ready for the next leg of the journey to Oregon State.
With the ball in her hands, she’s in control. That’s how she rolls.
“I love being able to have power in the circle,” she said. “I love to control the game, to slow it down or speed it up, and having my teammates have my back. I love that feeling.”
Article reprinted with permission of the Camarillo Acorn