Every baseball team in the book—from the Yankees to the Mudville nine—has depended on their big hitters for both runs on the scoreboard and energy in the lineup. It’s the slugger who has the potential to change the nature of an inning, a game, or a season.
The Harvard women’s softball team is no exception, looking to a hitter with offensive prowess of her own: Whitney Shaw.
The 6’0” junior has made her mark both on her team and on the Ivy League in the last two seasons, leading the Crimson last year with 42 RBIs, and the conference with 13 home runs. In addition, Shaw set a new school record for the most hit-by-pitches, with 13, and tied the record with the most doubles in a season, with 14.
Beyond her strengths at the plate, the San Francisco native was a unanimous pick to the All-Ivy League first-team and played strong defense at first base.
And having accomplished all of this by her sophomore season, Shaw changed the question from, “what can she do,” to, “what can’t she do,” with one more year of maturity, experience, and training under her belt.
But for Shaw, it’s less about the accolades and more about a simple love of the game.
“Softball has a great dynamic between both team and individual aspects,” she said. “I can focus on my own personal game, but always have that team support to keep me going.”
The slugger happened upon softball at a young age, when it was just one of her many athletic interests.
“My parents just wanted to get me involved in as many things as possible,” Shaw said. “I played soccer, basketball, volleyball, and softball...but as I got older, I had to pick and choose what I wanted to pursue more.”
Fortunately for Harvard, she picked softball.
But as much as she has brought to the Crimson already, Shaw recognizes what her team has given in return.
“[The team] has been a great family to have here,” Shaw said. “Some of my best friends have come out of it...but it’s also been the foundation for learning about college. I’m a big believer that sports can teach you things about life that you’ll never learn in class...and [softball] has allowed me to balance everything out.”
For her teammates and coaches, the feeling is mutual.
“Whitney is definitely a rock on this team,” said fellow junior and pitcher Rachel Brown. “I have 100 percent confidence in her. When I’m pitching, I know she’ll put her best foot forward...and when she comes up to bat, I think she’s going to get a hit every time.”
“She’s a power hitter for us,” Harvard coach Jenny Allard echoed. “She can change the game with one swing...and [on the field], she makes sure that those plays that need to happen, happen.”
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