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Lake City leadoff batter piles up the runs

Fri., May 17, 2013

Vanessa Shippy and her Lake City teammates are favorites to win the Idaho State 5A softball championship. (Kathy Plonka)
Vanessa Shippy and her Lake City teammates are favorites to win the Idaho State 5A softball championship. (Kathy Plonka)

When Vanessa Shippy comes to bat, it’s a safe bet that she’ll soon be standing at second base.

Shippy, Lake City’s junior leadoff hitter, is batting .771 (64 for 83) and has an on-base percentage of .804 heading into this morning’s 5A State softball opener at Ramsey Park in Coeur d’Alene.

Once Shippy reaches first base, which she’s done in 82 of 105 plate appearances this season, second base is normally not far behind. Shippy, a third-year varsity player, has 53 stolen bases in 54 attempts this season.

“They made a good throw and I got a terrible jump,” Shippy said of the lone time she was caught stealing.

Her regular trips to second base have led to a team-high 65 runs, or 2.7 runs per game.

Shippy’s offense is a big reason that the Timberwolves (24-0) are the overwhelming favorite to duplicate their 2011 effort of an undefeated championship season.

Shippy, the team’s 5-foot-8 second baseman, began the season at No. 2 in the batting order, behind center fielder JaeCie Wilson. LC coach Laura Tolzmann switched the two after five games, allowing Shippy and singles hitter Wilson (.597) to set the plate for power hitters Casey Stangel, Lindsey Willmon and Dakota Wilson for an offense that averages 14.1 runs per game.

“I think one thing I find really cool about our team this year is the offensive game,” Shippy said. “One through nine in the order, we can all come up with a hit when we need to.”

Shippy, a Coeur d’Alene native, started playing softball at age 8 for the Heartbreakers, coached by her father, Ron.

“As a kid I tried everything: soccer, baseball, basketball, karate,” Shippy said. “I ended up sticking with softball because, to me, it was like a thinking game.”

Shippy played locally during summers until she was 14, when she joined a club team in Seattle. She and Stangel, the club’s ace pitcher, now play for So Cal Explosion, based near Huntington Beach, Calif.

The club exposure led to interest from Oklahoma State, which received an oral commitment from Shippy last July. Shippy said she’ll sign her letter of intent in November.

But first, Shippy and the Timberwolves want to erase the memory of last year’s state tournament. Coeur d’Alene, which had struggled against Lake City the entire 2012 season, defeated the Timberwolves 5-2 in the title game. It was one of two games LC has lost since Shippy joined varsity.

“I think it ended up being for the best that we didn’t come out on top in the championship game,” Shippy said. “It allowed us to fix some things. I think that’s why this year we’re even a stronger team.”

CdA (18-8) is back in the state field, on the opposite side of the bracket from LC.

LC is ranked No. 3 nationally by The second-ranked team is Archbishop Mitty (Calif.) High, which includes Shippy’s Explosion teammate Jazmyn Jackson.

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