Shimek's improbable run as an unhittable pitcher
July 2, 2011 at 2:02 a.m.
2011 VICTORIA ADVOCATE SOFTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR :: Ashley Shimek, Shiner
Ashley Shimek had contentedly been a shortstop for most of her softball playing career.
But Shiner needed help at pitcher. Holly Haas was catcher by trade, although she had pitched for much of last season and through the non-district portion of this year.
Early in District 28-1A play, Shiner coach Brandon Siegel approached the senior, who had been playing third base to allow freshman Kristen Schacherl to play, and said she would be pitching more often.
"I had been doing well at it and Holly was feeling more comfortable as a catcher," Shimek said.
"That was just bizarre to me," she added. "I had never done this before."
She asked her coach one poignant question that became the motto of the season: Did she need to get serious about this?
"Do I need to go home, work out, get stronger in my legs and get better at this," she asked her coach.
His reply was close to immediate: "Yes, I'm dead serious."
So, Shimek got serious. And what happened next for the career shortstop turned pitcher was nothing short of amazing.
Shimek pitched the last 20 games of the season for the Lady Comanches, helping to lead the team to a Class 1A state title. Her numbers during that stretch are almost unfathomable: 24-0 for the season, nine shutouts and an ERA well below 1 run per game.
Her phenomenal run through District 28-1A play and the Class 1A playoffs paced Shiner to a state title helped earn her top honors: District 28-1A MVP, a selection to the Class 1A all-state team from the Texas Girls Coaches Association, and player of the year from the Texas Sports Writers Association.
Her resume made her a no-doubt selection as the Victoria Advocate's softball player of the year.
The crowning moment of her season was a two-hit shutout of Grapeland in the state final to secure a state title for Shiner.
Shimek made a single run, scored in the sixth inning, hold up for Shiner in the Class 1A state championship.
She brimmed with confidence about a job well done.
"That one run was all we really needed," Shimek said. "I had to have confidence in myself to help make that one run held up."
But the start of the game also came with butterflies. Yes, Shimek had been to a state final before when the Lady Comanches made it in 2008. But she only had a cup of tea in the game, pinch running a few times but never taking a swing or playing in the field.
The first few pitches, she said, were unnerving.
"It's always those very first pitches that were unreal to me," Shimek said. "But after that, nothing was hard about it. I knew what I had to do and I did it."
The transitions were not always easy for her, either. She had played at shortstop for three seasons, then moved to third base at the behest of the coaches because of her experience.
She wasn't exactly keen to the idea, she said.
"It was really hard in the beginning," Shimek said. "I had been playing there for three years. Coach felt more comfortable with me at third base rather than a new player. Then I was moved to pitcher."
Shimek said she had some experience in the circle, but not a lot. She had pitched a few times before the start of the district season with some success, but it was always as a backup.
"If I was put in I would do it and wouldn't mind it," she said. "I learned when I was 8 years old from my dad. I've never really had any real lessons from anyone."
This was different. This was a full time change to a radically different position. Shimek said she found a way to manage.
"As I kept racking up wins, it got fun," she said.
A lot of hard work had to go into being successful. The offense for the Comanches was a key factor often, helping to dig the team out of holes and helping Shimek pitch with leads the majority of the time.
She gives credit to her teammates. The Lady Comanches progressed into a dominant team at the right time, and hit their stride in time for the playoffs.
"As the season progressed, we worked hard at practice, we got better every day," she said. "Our hitting was just dominating, and they saved my butt several times.
"I wouldn't want to play with any other group of girls."
2011 VICTORIA ADVOCATE FIRST SOFTBALL TEAM
Senior, pitcher, Shiner St. Paul
Junior, pitcher, Yoakum
Senior, pitcher, Hallettsville
Senior, third baseman, Industrial
Senior, catcher, Yoakum
Sophomore, catcher, Victoria East
Senior, second baseman, Calhoun
Senior, first baseman, St. Joseph
Junior, pitcher, Calhoun
Junior, shortstop, Victoria West
Sophomore, outfielder, Edna
Junior, pitcher, Refugio
Soph., third baseman, Ganado
Junior, outfielder, Bay City
Junior, third baseman, Victoria East
Sophomore, outfielder, St. Joseph
2011 VICTORIA ADVOCATE SECOND SOFTBALL TEAM
Bay City, senior, pitcher
Yorktown, senior, pitcher/utility
Industrial, pitcher, junior
KARLY RAE HOERIG
Victoria West, sophomore, pitcher
Victoria East, freshman, pitcher
Ganado, catcher, junior
Yorktown, catcher, freshman
Refugio, senior, catcher
Hallettsville, senior, first baseman
Victoria West, junior, first baseman
Victoria East, senior, first baseman
Victoria East, sophomore, shortstop
Yoakum, junior, shortstop
Calhoun, sophomore, shortstop
St. Joseph, senior, second base/third base
Calhoun, sophomore, third base
St. Joseph, senior, outfield/first base
Edna, senior, outfielder
Victoria West, sophomore, outfielder
Shiner, outfielder, senior
St. Joseph, junior, utility
Shiner, utility, junior
Shiner St. Paul, senior
ST. JOSEPH: Fabiola Chinea, Mariah Clay, Sarah Sainz
VICTORIA EAST: A.C. Cruz, Jennie Johnson, Jodie Garcia
VICTORIA WEST: Abby Mease, Eboni Murphy
CALHOUN: Kati May
EL CAMPO: Morgan McClain
BAY CITY: Alyssa Montoya, Ashley Montoya, Brianna DelaRosa, Brianna Payne, Lindsey May
GONZALES: Shayla Simper, Cassie LaFleur
CUERO: Maegan Martin, Madison Simpson
YOAKUM: Reagan Renken, Morgan Caka, Courtney Valka, Brandye Jemelka
HALLETTSVILLE: Madison Schindler, Megan Busselman, Alexis Louden
WEIMAR: Vanessa Maupin, Peyton Ervin, Allison Srubar, Haley Guenther, Kendall Marak, Haley Mendez
SCHULENBURG: Alyssa Michalke, Sarah Walker
RICE CONSOLIDATED: Adriana Ruiz, Delilah Gentry
EAST BERNARD: Erica Reyes, Courtney Hollinger
GOLIAD: Janna Castro, Michelle Campbell, Stormie Lutz
SHINER: Stacey Perez, Megan Chumchal, Julianna Rankin, Jordan Pietsch
MOULTON: Barbara Stevenson, Mary Kubicek
GANADO: Katie Diaz, Georgi Garza, Brianna Ledwick, Ashley Bridges
FLATONIA: Courtney Mica, Taylor Williams, Alex Bruns, Katie Steinhouser
LOUISE: Michaela Bram, Kaleigh Kutac
INDUSTRIAL: Bianca Moreno, Michaela Montes, Katelynn Bell, Kaitlin Wittnebert, Julia Stastny, Katlyn Strauss
EDNA: Madison Garza, Brandy Vaclavick
VAN VLECK: Megan Huerta, Mollie Huber, Kyla Patten, Meg DeMent, Megan Stell, Kamille Kucera, Kara Bickham, Lyndee DeMent
BOLING: Emma Sparkman, Alyssa Ferrel, Kyla Lockley
BLOOMINGTON: Brittany Wallace
TIDEHAVEN: Missy Boudreaux, Jessica Neuman
HALLETTSVILLE SACRED HEART: Ariel Fogt
SHINER ST. PAUL: Alexa Schaefer, Kali Kocian, Lizzy Opiela, Katelynn Leist, Mary Adamek, Bethany Pokluda
FAITH ACADEMY: Courtney Grevey
NIXON-SMILEY: Mikayla Vasque, D'Laine Palacio, Kelby Henderson.
PALACIOS: Erica Serna
WHARTON: Courtney Barker, Savanna Bijarro
WOODSBORO: Kati Perez, Malorie Nesloney, Hannah Carmichael, Melissa Cisneros, Jamie Wilson
YORKTOWN: Caitlin Seifert, freshman Morgan Campos