Softball Player of the Year

A historic hitter and a historic Mountie

South’s Macie Shirk’s record breaking season sees her re-peat as JR’s Softball Player of the Year

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NEW MARKET — Southmont softball coach Dan Taylor, who knows a thing or two about softball, has called Macie Shirk “the most prolific hitter in school history”. Just a glance at Shirk’s numbers and you can see why she is more than worthy of that praise. After a stellar junior season with the Mounties, Shirk was set on having an even better senior season. To say she did that would be a major understatement. This season Shirk had a season that will go down in school history as probably the best offensive season ever. Along with her .535 batting average, she cranked 11 home runs and tallied 40 RBI’s while slugging 1.126 and having an OPS of 1.707.

Oh by the way, she’s also pretty solid on the mound as well. Shirk, as she was a season ago, was the workhorse and ace of the Mountie pitching staff. She posted an 11-5 record while striking out 105 batters in 88.1 innings pitched and ended with a 3.25 earned run average.

All of that success allowed Shirk to be just the third player in Southmont history, joining Sydney Casteel and McKenzi Jordan, to be selected to play in the Softball Coaches Association of Indiana’s annual North/South All-Star game which took place this past weekend in Bloomington.

“She just put up insane numbers this season,” Taylor said. “Coming into the year we were worried a little bit about how other teams might pitch around her or intentionally walk her, but she handled all of that well. Macie was a more powerful hitter this year and you saw that with her 1.707 OPS which is just an insane number. She did all of this by seeing less good pitches to hit, but her discipline at the plate was outstanding. She just surpassed any and all of the expectations that we had for her.”

The secret to Shirk’s dominating run as a Mountie can simply be attributed to her first-class work ethic and determination. Hours of work in their basement with her father Kyle working on her swing , high level pitching lessons, and summers playing travel ball have allowed Shirk to have the success she has seen.

There is little doubt that Shirk has earned the right to re-peat as the 2022 Journal Review Softball Player of the Year.

“I came in knowing that I wanted to do better than last year,” Shirk said. “With it also being my senior season I just wanted to go out and have fun. The beginning of the season was a little rough, but then I got a handle of things and it all started to click. I had the mindset of going up to the plate thinking I could get a hit off of any pitcher that was in the circle no matter what. The knew the team looked up to me so I had to go up there with confidence to show them you can get a hit off of anyone.”

The Sagamore Conference is widely regarded as one of the most difficult conferences around. That was shown as the No. 1 team in 3A, the Tri-West Bruins made it all the way to the Class 3A state championship game behind the electric arm of sophomore phenom Audrey Lowry. Nonetheless Shirk came out on the other side still as one of the leaders in the SAC in most of the offensive categories.

“When we got through about half of the season and had seen Tri-West and Danville and their stout pitchers, Macie was still leading the conference in every category. She handled every type of pitcher and was the best hitter in the conference without a doubt.”

Let’s dive into the stats and let them tell the story of how dominate Shirk was not only this past season, but throughout her career with the Mounties. This past season she led the SAC in batting average, home-runs, RBI’s, OPS, and slugging%. Shirk also has set countless single season and career records. They include tying the single season home run record with 11, most single season RBI’s (40), career home runs (14), single season OPS (1.707), career OPS (1.328), career batting average (.476), single season slugging% (1.126), career slugging% (.805), and fewest strikeouts per plate appearance with a 7.7% strikeout rate.

“This season really meant a lot to me in a lot of ways,” Shirk said. “I’ve worked very hard for as long as I can remember to get to where I’m at. Just the hours of going to hitting lessons, countless camps to practicing downstairs with my dad, it’s nice to see all of that work really pay off.”

Taylor backs Shirks comments up by calling her a “self-made player”. While he was her coach and did have some conversations with Shirk on how to improve her game, the overwhelming majority of her improvement came from her desire to never be satisfied. He also noted how important it was for her to be selected and play in the North/South All-Star game.

“I think at the beginning of the season when was struggling just a bit, she was just over-anxious because it’s her senior year and what not,” Taylor said. “She fixed that herself very quickly because she’s able to figure things out on her own and works exceptionally hard all on her own. After those first four games of the season, she hit .634 the rest of the way so I think she figured it out just fine. For her to get to play in the North/South game with all of the great softball players in the state and the sport growing as it is, it’s getting more and more difficult to make those teams. When we got the call I was pretty excited for her. I know she deserved to be in the game and is as good as those girls. She earned the right to play in it theres no question”. 

When the name Macie Shirk gets brought up in Southmont softball history, most will think all of the mind blowing numbers she put up at the plate and on the mound. However Shirk wants people to remember her for more than just her play on the diamond.

“I want people to look up to me as a leader first my junior and senior year,” she said. “I had all of these record which were nice but I want to leave something positive here. I hope that the juniors next year can step up and lead the same way I was able to.”

Taylor puts Shirk right up with alongside both Casteel and Jordan as the ‘elite of the elite’ in school history. The records and stats speak for themselves and now Shirk can say she’s among the best to ever dawn a Mountie jersey.

“If you would have asked me if anyone would ever hit like Sydney Casteel did in 2017, I would’ve said it’s not likely, but then here comes Macie and she sets all kinds of records that both Sydney and McKenzi Jordan both had,” Taylor said. “Macie is the best hitter we’ve ever had because she hits for average, hits for power, great pitcher and a great leader. When you look at the whole picture Macie belongs right up there with the both of them and has an argument for the top spot.”

While her softball career will now be over as Shirk will continue her golf career at St. Mary’s of the Woods in the fall, no one will forget the player that Shirk was for Southmont for a very long time.

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