A new season afoot, the Slippery Rock University softball squad has a calm, collected and dependable mound presence it knows it can count on.
Camie Shumaker will act as the Rock’s ace as it pushes into its schedule, coming on the heels of a freshman effort in which she appeared in 22 contests. The sophomore righty from Lancaster, Ohio has grabbed one win in her first three appearances of the 2019 campaign and seeks to replicate the solid results she posted last spring.
A year ago, while adjusting to a new level of play and trying to make a name for herself, Shumaker was admittedly tense. However, the stat lines from her first handful of appearances certainly wouldn’t show it.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking,” Shumaker said of the early-season jitters. “I have learned through my life to have some pretty good composure, so I let it show as little as possible.”
This poise was in evidence following her first three outings into Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference competition. Her pitches seemingly couldn’t miss opposing bats and she gave up 17 earned runs in little over 13 innings. The struggles didn’t phase her. She buckled down and her role became clearer.
“She’s very stoic on the mound. Even as a freshman, it was almost like she had ice water in her veins,” head coach Stacey Rice said. “Nothing really seemed to rattle her.”
She finished with a 2.88 earned run average and 46 strikeouts over 92.1 innings. Her three shutouts ties for the most ever for a Rock freshman and the eight wins she notched ranks second for a first-year SRU hurler.
Talking about the stretch of poor play last year, Shumaker said, “Nothing ever really stopped me. I had good motivation from the upperclassmen. I was on the mound, and even though I knew they wanted to be on the mound, they were still supporting me.”
Aside from keeping her ERA in a respectable 2.00-3.00 range, attaining this sort of leadership is an individual goal of Shumaker’s for this spring.
Despite the statistical objective, Shumaker refuses to be defined by her numbers. Rather, she finds motivation by what her coaches and catchers tell her and by the overall team atmosphere. She even credits her teammates as reasons for her personal strengths.
Rice assigns weekly, short-term goals to her players, who then help each other achieve them. Early in this season, the coach has implored her main pitcher to sharpen her pitch command. Such precision, along with working on her riseball and curveball, was Shumaker’s focus areas in the offseason.
Having gone through different pitching coaches before her time at the university, the consistency of Rice’s stewardship has been helpful in Shumaker’s development.
The team came close to a regional berth last season, and both coach and player believe this year’s edition possesses the talent to do play into May.
“We have great chemistry this year,” Shumaker said. “We just need that chemistry to work on the field.”