Goreville’s Shelbey Miller wrapped up her prep sports career over the weekend with a Class 1A state softball championship. Miller and her teammates won it all, and it wasn’t really all that close, despite a couple of tight postseason games.
When it comes to Goreville athletics, Miller is the main player that comes to mind. The school may never have another student-athlete quite like her.
“This was the perfect ending,” Miller said. “I still can’t believe it.”
The Blackcats featured all of the elements of a championship team in 2012. Miller and Tiffani Shadowens would set the table, and Taylor Odom would clear it.
Odom finished her junior year with 24 home runs, 72 RBIs and a .590 batting average. Haley Darnell and Brittney Pritchett provided solid protection in the four and five spots in the lineup, too.
But when it came right down to it, Goreville relied on its tremendous freshman pitcher, Sydnee Rushing, who threw shutouts in each of her postseason starts.
Rushing just has it. Her poise on the mound is remarkable.
“Syd is awesome, and I am so, so happy that she got this her freshman year,” Miller said of Rushing. “She deserved it more than anybody. She played great, and she never let up. She never got down on herself and never got down on the team. She just did great.”
Goreville’s defense was usually quite good, especially Miller at shortstop. However, Shadowens (third base), and Pritchett (center field) performed well at their respective positions.
After losing Jodie Wright, a four-year starting pitcher from 2008-11, Miller never would’ve guessed a crafty freshman would put her team over the top.
“That’s what shocked us so much,” Miller said after the super-sectional. “The way she keeps her composure is unbelievable. I have to yell at her to smile when she strikes someone out. She’s always in that game mode. About midway through the season we realized that we’ve got a shot, and Sydnee Rushing is our gem.”
Miller finished her senior year with a .460 batting average to go along with 20 RBIs and 53 runs scored. She’ll play Division I softball at Murray State University next year.
But she’ll have to get used to a new coach, which won’t be easy.
“I’m glad that we could give this to coach because she’s wanted this ever since she was in high school,” Miller said of Goreville’s head coach, Shanna Massey. “I’m proud of her, and I’m proud of our team.”