Willard, who manages the Camarillo High softball team, and Shadinger, the Scorpions’ record-setting senior pitcher, have both decided to leave the past in the past.
The memories of last year’s CIF-Southern Section Division 2 championship will last a lifetime, they say. But trying to cash in on those accomplishments a year later isn’t going to cut it.
“I’m not living off last year. It’s a new year. It’s senior year,” said Shadinger, an Oregon State commit who’s been clocked throwing as high as 63 miles per hour from the circle.
Added Willard: “We’re just making sure people are still hungry and competitive, and not taking anything for granted. But our girls do a pretty good job with that. They come to practice and work hard every day.
“It’s a brand-new team. Last year’s come and gone, and it’s a brand-new year. People are going to give us their best shot every time—we’ve taken a couple of lumps already from two good teams,” the coach said.
Camarillo (7-2) opens Pacific View League play today at home against Channel Islands. First pitch is slated for 3:30 p.m.
The Scorpions return nine players from last year’s section title-winning roster.
Shadinger, who set a school record with 23 wins in 2011, is the staff ace as well as a powerful presence at the plate.
In a lineup dominated by left-handed hitting—during Monday’s 11-1 mercy-rule win over Alemany, ACHS had six lefties in the batting order, including four at the top of its lineup—Shadinger is the rare Scorpion who provides major pop from the right side.
Menacing in the circle, Shadinger baffles opposing hitters with a six-pitch barrage that includes fastballs, curveballs, changeups, rise balls, drop balls and screwballs.
“We always have a chance with her out there pitching for us,” said senior left fielder/pitcher Bianca Noriega of Shadinger.
Noriega serves as the No. 2 starter and also works in relief.
A Cal State Monterey Bay commit, Noriega is Camarillo’s regular left fielder and an anchor in the middle of the lineup.
The team’s left-handed cleanup hitter has shown an ability to blast the ball out of any part of the ballpark.
Noriega said the Scorpions are “one big family.”
“If someone doesn’t get the job done, the next person will come up and get it done for them,” she said. “We have each other’s backs. We’re very close.”
Juniors Shelbie Franc and Hayley Chamberlain form a tremendous double-play duo, with Franc patrolling second base and Chamberlain securing shortstop.
Both bat from the left side and are considered slap hitters.
Franc, a University of New Mexico commit, said having so many lefties in the lineup can be intimidating for opposing defenses.
“ Usually they think lefty means fast,” said Franc, whose last name is pronounced like the country, France.
“If they assume the hitters at the top of the order are some of the best, which is usually the case, and they’re all lefties, the defense is going to rush sometimes and they’re going to make mistakes. Sometimes that happens against us.”
Chamberlain has committed to the University of Houston.
Junior Amy King and sophomore Kellie Kooker, two more lefty sluggers, can both play first base or in the outfield.
Kooker can also take over at catcher in a pinch.
Sophomore third baseman Chase Robledo holds down the fort at the hot corner. She’s a rising star with a gold glove.
Senior catcher Amy Anderson took two stitches to the face against Alemany but was back on the field smiling and laughing after the victory. Suffice it to say, Anderson is one tough customer.
Megan Resnik and Jessica Perine, a couple of sophomores, are Camarillo’s backups at catcher but both are nursing injuries.
There’s only one freshman on the roster, speedster Jazmin Macias, a left-handed slap hitter who plays center field or right field.
Macias’ manager and teammates rave about her maturity and developing skills.
Junior Shelby Jacobsen has committed to Biola University. She plays right field and serves as a relief pitcher.
Junior Emily DeStefano adds quality depth in the outfield.
Jacobsen has a good idea of what it’ll take to repeat as league and section champions.
“We have to work hard and do what we need to do to get better,” Jacobsen said.
“ We can’t back down because we think we’re better than another team. We need to pick ourselves up and not play down to any team’s level.”