Whatever it takes

CHARLOTTESVILLE — If you want to know Darby Shaw’s softball statistics, you’ll have to look them up. She doesn’t have any idea what they are.

That’s because Shaw, Eastern Hancock’s ace pitcher, doesn’t care about her stats. The only thing she’s concerned about is whether her team won or lost the game.

“I know I’ve had a few games where I wasn’t throwing my best, but we were fortunate enough to come out on top,” Shaw said. “That’s really all that matters to me. That’s what I try to focus on. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing individually, it’s about the team. I’m worrying about whether we get the win, not how my stats look.”

Shaw, now a senior, started playing softball at 6 years old. Right away her coaches could tell she had a bright future in the sport.

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“Darby has three traits beyond her natural talent that make her special as a student-athlete,” Shaw’s long-time travel ball coach King Lumpkin said. “First, she has a great work ethic. Darby is always willing to work hard and to get better. Secondly, she’s a perfectionist. She is never satisfied and pushes herself to try and throw the perfect pitch or make a better swing.

“And finally, she is a competitor. She does not like to lose.”

Shaw has two games looking back at her career that she wishes she could do over. Both of those were losses against Hauser.

Shaw threw all seven innings, allowed just four hits and one earned run in the game against Hauser this year. But she was disappointed in herself because of the loss.

“That’s one I really wish I had to do over,” she said.

The road hasn’t always been easy for Shaw. She sustained two concussions during her sophomore year of basketball that kept her out of softball for several weeks. She has had problems with her pitching shoulder and also has dislocated her elbow.

During that time, Shaw started to doubt whether she could ever accomplish her goal of one day pitching for a Division I program.

“I always questioned whether I was good enough to go Division I,” Shaw said. “That was my dream, but I didn’t realize how close I was to reaching it. Then one day I was talking to my pitching coach and she encouraged me to not settle for anything less than my dream. She really helped push me to keep working for that scholarship.”

Shaw eventually signed with Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne.

“The first time I knew Darby was Division I material was during an 8 a.m. game in October of 2014,” Lumpkin said. “We were at the St. Louis Exposure tournament. She just went to another level. Darby was throwing harder than I’d ever seen her throw, hitting spots, spinning the ball and changing speeds.

“She dominated that game and I watched college coach after college coach walk up and take notice. I think it was obvious to all of us at that point Darby could compete at a very high level.”

So far this season Shaw has helped lead the Royals to a 7-1 start. She has a 4-1 record in the pitching circle with a 2.26 earned run average. She has struck out 45 batters in only 34 innings. Offensively, she’s batting .333.

Shaw throws a wide variety of pitches. She has a fastball, drop ball, rise ball, curve and a screwball. She mixes those pitches in every game.

“My favorite is my curve and my changeup,” she said.

Shaw fell in love with softball at a young age. Her first pitching coach was a high school player for the Royals, Kristen Brooks.

“I give lessons for a lot of younger girls from Eastern (Hancock) and Knightstown,” Shaw said. “I love doing it. It reminds me of when I was little, and I looked up to Kristen so much when she was teaching me. I hope I can be a good role model for the girls I am teaching as well.”

Eastern Hancock coach Sue Anderson said she believes Shaw has developed into a true team leader.

“Darby has really grown in the last three years,” Anderson said. “She is a kid that works hard and is committed to the team and makes sure she does all she can do to make us better.”

Shaw said she is hoping the Royals can go far in the state tournament this year. The past two seasons Eastern Hancock has fallen in sectional play, and Shaw is eager to change that this year.

She knows, if the ball is in her hands, she’s going to do whatever it takes to earn the victory.