Streaking Shannon provides powerful jolt to Jaguars offense
May 14, 2012 at 12:14 a.m.
Ashley Shannon caught grief from her teammates Monday afternoon for her peculiar ambidexterity.
As the designated player for the University of Houston-Victoria softball team told the story of her mother buying the wrong glove when she was younger her teammates hardly believed her.
It seemed like one extended joke woven into the middle of an afternoon of them - only it wasn't.
"I'm left-handed. My younger sister and I are the only lefties in our family," Shannon said. "My mom, she bought me the wrong glove when I was younger. She bought me a right-handed glove and I just picked that up. Volleyball and softball are literally the only things I do with my right hand."
When she played varsity volleyball Shannon attacked with her right hand. She also throws a softball with that hand. However, Shannon hits from the left side.
"I picked up the wrong glove," Tammy Shannon recalled about buying her oldest daughter's first glove back when Ashley was five. "I didn't realize I picked up the wrong glove until later. Her dad said let her throw like that. I don't know why I did that or how I did that."
Her mother joked that opponents used to think the 5-foot-9-inch Ashley was a slap hitter because she batted with her left and threw with her right. That is certainly not the case.
The sophomore from Killeen has been one of the Jaguars leading power hitters this season.
"She can crush the ball," said UHV softball coach Keri Lambeth, emphasizing the adjective. "When she is seeing the ball well, she can do dangerous things to it."
Entering this week's NAIA National Championships Shannon is second on the team in home runs, slugging and walks. She is also batting .319 and created 43 runs (28 RBIs, 15 runs) in 43 games played.
Shannon is hoping to burst through a slump this week, beginning with the Jaguars contest against Central Methodist Thursday afternoon. She is 1 for 15 in her last five games with eight strikeouts and a walk during that period.
She is not concerned about the slump, instead continuing to bring a strong mental approach to every at bat.
She grew up a catcher, but since playing collegiate softball-first at McLennan College in 2011 - Shannon has been a designated player. Though she misses being in the field her new role allows her to devote her focus.
"When you get into a rut, even if you are not hitting the ball well, or even if you are hitting the ball well but in the wrong spots, when you have the first it it's like a spark plug," Shannon said. "It gets your momentum going. .I look for that little spark to get me going."
A national tournament would be just the platform to ignite the matchstick that rests atop her shoulders each at bat. Throughout the years, the 20-year old has proven to be a resilient player, so her current dip is just another blip.
When Shannon was nine she tried out for a travel ball team and was rejected because the coach said the right-handed Ashley "can't throw over a house," her mother recalled. A few years later Shannon wound up playing varsity softball at Schumacher High for the same man who denied her a spot on the competitive softball team.
"She pushed herself. She loved the game, she loved everything about it," her mother said. "All the coaches she has been through they have been her role models."
Shannon's current coach, Lambeth, said they lucky enough to convince the slugger to continue her softball career in a city Ashley admitted didn't knew existed prior to being recruited.
This week will be the second time Shannon has participated in a national tournament. McLennan made the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament a year ago.
Shannon is confident her current team will make a stronger showing than the Highlassies 1-2 record at the 2011 NJCAA tournament. The team's togetherness won't allow for anything less.
"We have this cohesiveness," Shannon said. "At the beginning of the year half our team was newbies coming in from JUCOs or other schools. We had to get accustomed to each other. As the season has gone on you can tell by our record and the way we play is that we know each other so well."