Prairie replaces five starters and multiple all-league selections, highlighted by Snider, an All-Region team selection, from a team that turned a third place 3A Greater St. Helens League finish into a second place finish at districts and a state tournament appearance.
Snider’s presence, Shelton said, was far more than her high batting average, or command of center field.
“Being loud, being under control in center field,” Shelton said. “You run the whole field and I have to help the players beside me.
“Definitely stepping into some pretty big shoes, because Kylee was a fantastic player and she’s definitely going to be missed this year, but it’s our time now, so we’ve definitely got to pick it up.”
Dawson said her and Shelton had a brief conversation about leadership before the season, but the senior has really taken the reigns.
Ask Shelton, and that starts with getting the team together for stretches when everyone is standing around and talking. Or weighing in to the group at the end of practices about how things went, and what to improve on.
During games, it’s covering everyone’s blind spots from center field. If it’s a pop fly, she’s yelling “back, back, back,” or “you’re in! You’re in! You’re in!”
Playing center field gives her a unique vantage of the field.
“I want to let them know I’m not here to boss them around,” Shelton said. “I’m here to guide a team to a good finish and that’s what I want. I want to see the best in everybody’s potential.”
Plus, walk down the halls of Prairie High School in the weeks leading up to the season, Shelton says they’re filled with celebratory buzz honoring the girls basketball team’s recent 3A state championship.
She feels that pressure for the spring.
“We’ve got some big shoes to fill,” Shelton said.