ANSONIA – Shelby Hartzell was ready to celebrate her graduation from Ansonia High School on May 27 and move on to the next chapter of her life at Sinclair Community College.
Her plans started to change that day, however, when she got a call saying that Sinclair softball coach Steve Beachler wanted her to join the Tartans as a pitcher.
“It was kind of a surprise,” Hartzell said. “I was just planning on going to college, getting my major. Out of nowhere it was a game change. But I’m excited.”
Hartzell, the daughter of Mike and Teresa Hartzell, ended up signing her letter of intent to play for Sinclair on Tuesday. And now she’s even thinking about playing college softball beyond the next two years.
“I want to go on and play softball after my two years (at Sinclair),” she said. “I want to go farther.”
Beachler grew interested in adding Hartzell to his program after receiving an email from Ansonia Athletics Director Matt Macy. The Tartans wanted a rise-ball pitcher, and Hartzell turned out to be a great fit.
“I think it was a good fit for us,” Beachler said. “We were looking for another pitcher, her type of pitcher, to fill out our roster for this coming year. We’re lucky to have her.”
Hartzell, who earned special mention all-Cross County Conference honors for the 2016 softball season, had a great senior season with a 1.51 ERA.
“Every day she’s out on the mound,” Ansonia softball coach Floyd Jenkins said. “Even a doubleheader she’d pitch that first game for us and get the win. We’d have another pitcher come in (for game two) and if we were close we’d bring her in again. She pitched a lot of innings for us this year and did very well and never complained one bit. For her stature I think she’s very durable and strong.”
Beachler expects Hartzell to contribute right away for Sinclair. He likes to give batters a variety of looks, and Hartzell’s rise ball gives the Tartans an element none of their other pitchers have.
“She’ll definitely help them because she’s got something about her pitching where she gets a lot of popups, a lot of outs,” Jenkins said. “She hits the zone good.”
Beachler, who already had Greenville’s Allison Minnich and Jazzlyn Petry in his 2016 recruiting class, is confident that he found another great fit in Darke County.
“She loves the game, she’s a competitor, a good student and the type of player that we need,” he said.
Hartzell, who plans to study dental hygiene in college, said she initially chose Sinclair because it was close to home and her family. She credits her high school coaches and parents, especially her dad who also was her pitching coach, with helping her advance to the college level.
Following her time at Sinclair, Hartzell is unsure where she wants to go but hopes to attend a university where she can play softball and continue her education in dental hygiene.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.