Competing at the next level |

Competing at the next level

Hitters rarely put a bat on Heather Shove’s above-average fastball during her four-year tenure on the Truckee High softball team. But times have changed.

“I can’t blow my pitches by all the batters anymore,” Shove said in a written statement from Jackson, Miss., where she recently finished her junior season on the Jackson State University softball team.

“Some people may look at my pitching stats and think that I have failed in a sense, considering all the success I had in high school,” she said.

Shove has far from failed, though.

Although the 2002 state MVP does not dominate hitters like she did as a Wolverine, Shove has improved other areas of her game ” namely hitting and fielding.

After struggling and finishing with a .191 batting average her freshman season, Shove’s average jumped to .308 in 2004 and .357 in 2005.

She also added to her swing power she never knew she had, which was discovered in 2004 when Jackson State hired a new coach, Kenya Peters.

“[Peters] has helped me better my swing and put all my power to use,” Shove said. “The results are obvious.”

The results: a slugging percentage of .287 her freshman season leaped to .637 her sophomore year, and her home run total of one as a freshman turned into eight as a sophomore.

Defensively, Shove plays first base when not pitching, and last season she posted a team-high .976 fielding percentage.

“It was obvious that I was more talented as an infielder than a pitcher,” Shove said, “however, it always seemed that every team I played on was in need of a pitcher, and I always was the one who threw the hardest, so naturally I became the pitcher for those teams and my days of playing in the infield got put on the back burner.”

Although she struggled her freshman season, Shove brought to Jackson State the natural leadership skills she demonstrated in high school ” enough so to be voted “Newcomer of the year.”

Truckee High softball coach Mitch Brown remembers Shove’s spunk.

“She wasn’t afraid to voice her opinion,” Brown said. “If she felt like [players] weren’t giving it their all, she’d let them know.”

But the main quality that stands out in Brown’s mind is Shove’s “tenacity and heart.”

“She refused to lose,” he said.

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