Young Guns Have Big Duty

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Shadle and Moore Own the Circle

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Kyle McDonald | Sports Writer | @kylesportsbias

When the Utah Valley University softball team takes the field each weekend they rely on their pitchers to hit their spots, get ground balls, and make big pitches when necessary. The Wolverines call on freshman Makayla Shadle and sophomore Bailey Moore to get the job done. It might be a lot to ask of a pitcher especially a young one but for Wolverines Head Coach Nikki Palmer, it is a luxury to have two pitchers who are up to the task. “They’ve done great so far… most importantly they’ve been consistent with their spots,” Palmer said when asked about her young pitchers. “When they do that we’re extremely successful.”

Shadle and Moore have helped guide the Wolverines to a 5-5 record to start the year off and have picked up a couple of big wins. Shadle pitched seven strong innings against Wisconsin of the Big Ten Conference and was able to help UVU upset a Badger team that was receive votes in the national polls.  She then beat New Mexico on Valentine’s Day by throwing seven strong innings and only giving up 2 earned runs, earning a nomination for WAC player of the week. Moore led the Wolverines to victory over Virginia of the ACC, Indiana of the Big Ten, and then threw six strong innings to blank the #25 Cal State Fullerton Titans, 9-0.

Even though they are young, Shadle and Moore are not intimidated by the level of play or the level of competition as they step in the pitchers circle each day. “Intensity level is way higher now,” Shadle said. “There’s bigger hitters and I didn’t face that in high school but making the adjustments.”

With a twinkle in her eye, Moore was not about to let her guard down.  “I wasn’t really intimidated.  They’re good hitters but it’s nice to have a challenge.” The sophomore from Ely, Nevada has a little bit more experience as she pitched in 35 games during her freshman year but she also knows that she has a tough act to follow as UVU lost pitcher Josi Summers, who led UVU to the WAC tournament championship, to graduation in 2014. “We have big shoes to fill…there’s been a lot of people that came before us like great athletes and great pitchers,” Summers stated.

As one of the most important positions on the field, these young pitchers want to accomplish the ultimate goal.  “I want to get to that WAC championship and to Oklahoma after that,” Shadle would say.  Oklahoma is where the Women’s College World Series is held.  It is the destination that all teams are working towards and a place that Makayla Shadle and Bailey Moore want to go and take their Wolverine teammates as well.

They are looking to continue the tradition of great pitching that UVU has had in past years and Coach Nikki Palmer is excited for what the future holds.  “It’s exciting for sure and it’s the foundation of our program….they’re learning fast and they’re growing up fast which is what we demand of them and doing that is going to make us successful in years to come.”