Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Liberty’s Sarah Shevenell throws a pitch during a victory over Golden West in February. Shevenell has committed to play softball next season at Olivet College in Michigan.
Her sister may have made the blueprint, but Liberty Hawks softball pitcher Sarah Shevenell is still doing things her own way.
Shevenell recently committed to play softball for Olivet College in Michigan, about 30 minutes southwest of Lancing.
“We don’t sign for a Div. III school, but I’ll be signing in the next couple of weeks for people to see,” she said.
Shevenell’s sister, Hannah, played four years at Lake Erie College in Ohio.
“I watched her go through it and play in Ohio for four years,” Sarah said. “I watched her how she did it in high school. It was really cool to follow my sister. My whole point was to play softball in college. I am following my sister. She played softball in college and loved it. It made me want to go do that.”
Shevenell had schools looking at her from Boston, South Dakota and Indiana. She chose Olivet because it wasn’t in California and it was small enough that it reminded of the Ranchos.
“I didn’t want to be in California. I love it here and it’s amazing. I wanted my own experience outside of being away from my family and trying new things. The Midwest is a great spot for me. It’s not too hot like it is here and I’ve always liked the cold so Michigan fit perfectly. Olivet was a small school. Not too small, but still small enough to be a person at the school and people know me because, that’s what I grew up with. When I got to Olivet, it was just like the Ranchos with more trees. I liked this place.”
Shevenell, who was on pace to place her name atop pitching records at Liberty, had her season cut short after 11 games.
“It was tough to not be able to finish out the season,” she said. “We had really high hopes through the first two-and-a-half weeks. I was crushed. It took me a week to recover. I didn’t have anywhere to go, I couldn’t seen Camile (Vestal), my other senior, and couldn’t talk to each other. Even doing all of that, I was still going through the field to look at it and even hit a couple of balls on the field to stay in it.”
Shevenell has the school record for most wins in a season with 22 last year. She also struck out a school record 199 batters last season, beating her sister’s old mark set in 2012.
She is also in the top five of most of the other pitching records.
“I’m very bored, but I’m getting through it,” she said. “I’m excited about going back even if it is for eight days, hopefully. It’s getting that relief and getting to say good-bye to my teachers and mentors.”
Shevenell fell in love with Olivet as soon as she stepped on campus and knew that was where she wanted to go.
“I sent out emails out to each coach of a school that had my major and within the area I wanted to go to,” she said. “I was at Las Vegas at one of the tournaments. I emailed the Olivet coach the weekend before and he came out and saw me. He saw me at my good and my bad. He knows what I’m capable of. He’s an incredible coach that loves softball as much as I do.”
Where Shevenell was going to play softball in college was the one question she was asked about all of the time. Now that she committed, she is able to relax.
“Everybody kept asking me if I knew what I was doing,” she said. “I didn’t know then. When I made my decision, I only told my family because I wanted to relax about it and think that I did that before everyone else found out.
“I feel more relaxed than I ever was. My junior year, I was so stressed because I was trying to find somewhere to go and make contacts. My senior year came around and I was still deciding. By March, I knew where I was going. I was waiting and I made my deposit, I told the coach, He said he couldn’t wait. To do that work, to see my sister go through it and finally having something that I can call mine is amazing.”
Shevenell plans to major in biology with a focus on animal studies to, eventually, become a veterinarian.
Although her parents went through having a child playing in the Midwest with Hannah, Sarah said things are a little different since she is the baby of the family.
“They are more cautious about me,” she said. “They are typical parents and care a lot more. My dad said as long as there’s an airport near me, they were good. I’m in the country a little bit. It’s just like the Ranchos going to Fresno.”