By KRIS MILLS – firstname.lastname@example.org
Addisenn Weaver’s freshman softball campaign was nothing but impressive. But this season, the sophomore is on fire.
Joining the swim team at Shelbyville this past season for the first time in her career, Weaver, a quick and powerful shortstop, appears to be more athletic on the diamond in her second year of varsity softball.
Prior to Friday’s contest at home against Delta, Weaver was 17-for-21 (.809) at the plate through seven games. Adding another hit against the Eagles, Weaver is still hitting well over .700 to lead SHS as the team’s three-hole hitter. Weaver has 16 RBIs, six doubles and two home runs to her name in a lightning-quick start.
“I have never seen a start as good at this,” said Golden Bears’ head coach Mark Hensley.
But did joining the swim team really make the difference? It would be unfair, in a sense, to give credit to swimming alone. Weaver, despite the long and grueling practices during swim season, still managed to find time to hit in the batting cage.
The combination of the two — swimming and batting practice during the winter months — has proven to be an effective workout regimen.
“Swimming got me in a lot better shape than when I played basketball (last year),” Weaver said. “I feel more athletic. When I throw, I feel so much stronger. When I hit, my core, it feels stronger as well.
“I feel like maybe I am more confident this year. I think last year I had a little bit of jitters. I don’t even think about anything at the plate now, If I see a strike I am going to hit it.”
Hensley said Weaver is one of the only players he has been around that can hit a home run during any at-bat. He allows her to be aggressive at the plate, but Weaver rarely has a bad at-bat in the box. It helps that she can hit any ball in or near the strike zone.
“I joked with Addi today at school, I told her, ‘the first pitch you see between your shins and your chin, see how far you can hit it,’” Hensley said. “(She) is a special kind of player. Those are once a career type of hitters.
“I was a little worried at first, after the first couple weeks of swimming was over, she looked rough. It is a lot (of practice). She was beat up. Once she realized she needed to eat about three times more than she did during swim season, she started to figure some things out and her body (responded). From last year to this year, granted it is another year worth of experience, she just looks faster. She is so much faster getting to balls in the field and her arm has gotten stronger. I am not sure how much swimming helped with that, but she did do a lot of shoulder work (in swimming). She threw the ball hard last year. But it is probably five to six miles per hour faster now.”
As a freshman, Weaver hit .400 with nine home runs and 12 doubles. She drove in 22 runs and scored a team-high 43 runs as the team’s leadoff hitter.
And no one knows her swing better than herself. If she ever hits a slump, she knows exactly what to fix. That has allowed her to be consistent despite being just a sophomore in high school.
“If I find something, I just fix or change it on my own,” Weaver said. “There is nothing I changed (from last year), though.”
Added Hensley: “If I go to correct her or say it, she already knows what happened. A lot of hitters will ask what they did wrong. She is so in tune with her swing, she already knows.”
The shortstop, who also plays catcher with her travel team (Beverly Bandits), was no stranger to the college recruiting world prior to entering high school. Before the softball rule change, which restricts college coaches from speaking to players until the summer before their junior season, Weaver was receiving interest from Big Ten programs, including Ohio State. That interest has not gone away.
“She put herself on the map (more) last year,” Hensley said. “She got some votes for all-state, which doesn’t happen often for a freshman. We are blessed to have her.
“I have been getting emails and stuff from colleges that are interested. Today it was from a Big Ten school.”
It is hard not to compare Weaver, who has a 4.013 GPA, to a current Ohio State player — former New Palestine shortstop Ashley Prange (2018 graduate). Prange, who was named the top softball player in Indiana last season, was a hard-hitting shortstop in high school, as well.
“They are similar players, both are really good in the field. I feel like I could put her anywhere,” Hensley said. “She does such a good job defensively. Long term in college, she may be a catcher.”
After dropping three of their last four contests, Weaver and the Golden Bears picked up a conference win over Delta on Friday, 4-3. The team beat Rushville in lopsided fashion on Thursday, 20-0.
Morgan Stieneker, who started on the mound for SHS, put a ball in play in the bottom of the seventh inning, which scored Kaylie Phelps for a walk-off conference win.
Weaver, a humble athlete, said she cares more about winning than her own success. Getting a victory over the Eagles was just what the Golden Bears needed. Shelbyville is now 4-4 overall and 1-1 in the Hoosier Heritage Conference.
“As a team, we can still keep improving,” Weaver said. “I am more comfortable this year around the team, I know all the girls and the freshmen. We just need to talk and communicate even more.”
Kris Mills is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Kris on Twitter @KrisMills37.