Because athletes can only spend a limited amount of time playing for a junior college team, most have to simply try an find an edge wherever they can.
For Centralia grad and current State Fair Community College outfielder Kaylee Shumaker that meant using the strongest aspect of her skill set to get playing time on both sides of the plate with the Lady Road Runners.
"Due to the short recruiting window to get players on campus, we held a couple open try-outs in hopes of finding some players that had not committed anywhere at that point," said SFCC coach Lyndsey Talbot. "Kaylee came to the second try-out and the biggest thing that stood out was her speed. Speed is something that you can't coach, so that was a big draw towards her. Also, being from a successful softball program, like Centralia, doesn't hurt her case any either."
After 38 games played Shumaker was hitting .225 with 17 runs, eight steals and six RBI. She also had 22 total bases and nine walks with 22 strikeouts and nine errors.
"Her speed is by far her biggest attribute, which gives her an advantage at the plate and in the field. She's able to run out hits and make-up for a bad route in the outfield," Talbot said. "I have talked with Kaylee about consistency in both the batters box and on defense. She will go through spurts where she is on fire at the plate, then some old bad habits will creep up. Same goes with the outfield, occasionally some bad habit will show themselves, but her speed gets her out of some of those."
Currently the Lay Road Runners are on a one-game winning streak after losing three straight and have a record of 8-32 overall. As members of the National Junior College Athletic Association's Region 16, SFCC competes in the Missouri Community College Athletic Conference and is 3-13 so far this season.
"She is definitely an everyday player that is a big part of the batting line-up, whether she is in the lead-off spot or batting ninth," said Talbot. "With this being a new program, it took awhile for the friendships and relationships to build, but I feel she is right in the middle of a group of girls that have grown together."
As a team this year the Lady Roadrunners are hitting .253 with a .329 on base percentage and a .368 slugging percentage. The squad has racked up 17 home runs and 148 runs so far, as well.
"She had a year in between where she hadn't played ball, so I think the demand of practice and other workouts was a little of an adjustment. She's proclaimed many times that she is not a morning person, so morning workouts were definitely not her favorite thing. But, I feel, and this goes for every athlete, that playing on a team helps in many aspects of life. It helps you become a team player and overcome adversity. Softball is a game of failure and it can beat you down at times, this is the same thing that life can do to you too."
Coming up for SFCC is a pair of games at the Central Methodist University JV today and tomorrow the Lady Roadrunners are at Three Rivers Community College to end the regular season.