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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Weekend Feature: Friend finally receives all-state honors

  • One of best players in history of Lady Wolf softball.
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  • Shelby Friend has put up all-state type numbers for a few years now.
    But she was still left out off the all-state list.
    Until this fall.
    Friend, one of the top softball players in the history of Newburg High School, was finally recognized statewide by being selected to the Missouri Class 1 All-State Second Team has a pitcher.
    "It's definitely an honor," Friend said. "I wasn't really as surprised as much as hopeful."
    Friend helped the Lady Wolves to a strong finish to her prep career, as the squad finished 17-3 overall and finished second to only Iberia in the Frisco League race with a 6-1 mark.
    And in the pitching circle, opposing coaches knew they were going to have a problem with Friend.
    "She's definitely a one-of-a-kind type player," said Newburg first-year head coach Andrew Lott. "She was a horse for us all year."
    And Friend was out there even though she was sometimes hurting.
    A shoulder injury she suffered as a freshman has stayed with her, although she said it was much better this fall.
    "My freshman year I hurt the shoulder and my sophomore and junior year it was really hurting," Friend said. "This year I think I was getting used to it and I hope it's getting better."
    More troubling for her was a knee injury which will soon require surgery. "We're just waiting for some results to see if it's going to be a big surgery or if they're just going in and cleaning some things up," she said.
    "I tore my MCL at the end of June in summer ball. A couple of times it would hurt if I slide on my knee wrong. But I didn't have to alter my pitching because of it."
    "She's just not the kind of kid to complain," Lott said. "She's always out there and pitched every inning and played every game. You could tell she was in pain some games. She's very tough."
    While pitching Friend was 17-3 and had a 0.99 ERA, fanning 188 and walking 30 in 119 2/3 innings of work while allowing 67 hits.
    "She was an outstanding pitcher this year," Lott said. "She was so good that I think it hurt us in district, when people were putting the ball in play more. She struck out so many we weren't used to the ball being put in play. She had 188 strikeouts on the year and that was amazing."
    Here offensive numbers were sparkling as well. Friend batted .545 with 36 hits, 13 doubles, eight triples, five homers, 24 RBI, 33 runs scored, 15 stolen bases, a 1.212 slugging percentage and a .615 on-base percentage.
    In other words, when she was at bat something good usually happened for the Lady Wolves.
    Page 2 of 2 - "I was thrilled with how I hit this year," Friend said. "I saw the ball better and placed it better."
    "She can do everything it takes to get on base," Lott said. "If you need a sacrifice fly to drive home a run, she'll do it. Whatever it takes to do her job; she's a smart player."
    Friend has verbally committed to attend and play softball at East Central Community College next school year. Rolla High's standout catcher Anna Feeler has also committed to East Central.
    "That's great," Friend said. "I'm excited to get the chance to play with her again."
    Friend said she would prefer to be a position player instead of a pitcher in college. But quickly adds she'll play wherever needed.
    "He wrote me down as utility," Friend said of the East Central coach. "I told him I've pitched enough in high school that I could pitch, but I will play where he needs me.
    "I'd prefer center field. And if they need me at shortstop I can play there."
    "She wants to be an outfielder (in college)," Lott said. "But she can play anywhere. If she's needed in the outfield or infield or as a pitcher she can do it. She's just a player."
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