It took a while, but Inglemoor High graduate Hannah Shimek and her Southern Oregon University softball squad eventually clutched the coveted championship trophy.
The Raiders won the NAIA World Series title by beating Oklahoma City, 8-3, in a thunderstorm-delayed game on May 29 in Springfield, Missouri. Southern Oregon led 6-3 when the game was halted in the fifth inning at about 11 a.m. The contest finally resumed at 9 p.m. that night, and the Raiders finished off Oklahoma to give the school its first national championship.
Southern Oregon — which finished 52-8 overall — beat Oklahoma twice in the tourney and lost to them once, 8-4, to set up the championship matchup. The Raiders finished 4-1 at the World Series.
“This is by far, honestly, the best year of softball I’ve ever played. I’ve never had such a close team and people that work so hard for the person next to them. No one was there for selfish reasons, everyone did everything for each other,” said Shimek, 20, a 2017 Inglemoor graduate who just finished her sophomore year at Southern Oregon.
Shimek notched a .957 fielding percentage while playing second base in all 60 games this season and hit for a .345 clip at the plate with 54 RBIs, eight doubles and six triples. She doubled in the loss to Oklahoma and scored the first run and had a bases-loaded walk in the final.
In the championship game, Shimek snared a line drive for the second out in the final inning, and then, “Tears immediately starting coming out of everyone’s eyes.” For the final out, senior left fielder Tiana Brown caught a fly ball to seal the deal.
The close-knit squad unleashed tons of energy in the final and Shimek said the fun game resulted in her most surreal experience ever on a softball diamond. Last year, the Raiders took third at the World Series.
After losing to Oklahoma in the early game on May 29, head coach Jessica Pistole smiled at her team and said, “‘You guys got this, you just gave them a little taste of it, but you’re about to pull it right out of them,’” said Shimek, who resides in Medford and is double majoring in business marketing and communications studies. The Raiders were named an NAIA Scholar Team again this season.
During the lengthy rain break, the team discussed winning the final over lunch, coffee and snacks. Back at their hotel room, Pistole suggested the players nap no longer than 45 minutes, and Shimek cracked her books for some economic homework to pass the time.
The game was originally planned to resume at 7 p.m., but the rain returned after the teams warmed up and were set to hit the diamond. For two hours, the Raiders waited in the dugout and played charades until the clock struck nine, Shimek laughed.
Southern Oregon got the job done when the time came and even earned ESPN’s No. 8 play of the night out of 10 with junior slugger Paige Leeper’s grand slam in the first inning. Junior pitcher Gabby Sandoval snatched the win for her 33rd complete game of the season.
Shimek played softball and basketball at Inglemoor and credited her coaches Jeff Skelly and Kristina Schumacher for molding her into a leader.
Skelly encouraged her “to be the best leader that I could be, and I think that has helped me a lot this year and last year. I’m on the field constantly talking, just taking care of my team,” said Shimek, adding that the leadership role helped with personal growth during her four years at Inglemoor.
Schumacher pointed her captain Shimek in a positive direction as well and has been a huge part of her life.
At Inglemoor, Shimek was a first-team all-4A KingCo infielder and outfielder whose team took fifth in state her senior year. She starred at second base her junior year and has possessed a solid glove at that position 471 miles away from Inglemoor in Ashland and on softball diamonds across the country.