Friday, November 21, 2014

Female ‘Warrior’ garnering respect

Those watching Beef’s Warriors play fastball for the first time this season can be forgiven if they leave the game with a case of whiplash.
If they don’t hurt their neck on their first double-take when Shelby Nosan trots onto the field, they are apt to do so when they see how well she can play with and against the boys.

The 21-year-old from Baudette, Mn. is the lone female playing in the Rainy River District Fastball League this season—her second with the Warriors after playing the previous two with the Stratton Eagles (now Bobcats).
“They just treat me like one of the guys,” said Nosan. “[Teammate] Rob McGinnis is always calling me a boy.
“It makes it fun,” she added. “I had three older brothers so it’s always been in my nature to play against the guys.”
Nosan isn’t just hanging around and getting a few pinch-running appearances here and there.
Anybody in the stands who sees her field her regular position at shortstop, or bring the heat from the rubber in her pitching outings, can tell right away that Nosan has a spot in the Warriors’ lineup based on merit, not sympathy.
Her opponents have found that out quickly, too.
“The ones that haven’t seen her look at her as a novelty,” noted McGinnis.
“A good number of pitchers took it easy on her in her first year.
“That has quickly stopped,” he added.
“Technically, she’s the best player in the league in everything from defence to offence,” McGinnis said.
“That’s because of the great coaching they get in the States.”
Not everything has come easily to Nosan since she joined the local men’s fastball league as a determined 17-year-old wanting to prove she belonged.
“Right from the beginning, it was real difficult,” she admitted.
“As a batter, the pitching speed is ridiculous,” she noted. “Their rise ball jumps far higher than the girls’.
“And as a pitcher, I wasn’t very good when I started,” Nosan conceded. “They were hitting home runs off me all the time.”
But Nosan said there have been no issues in terms of being accepted by her male counterparts.
“I’ve never had a guy snub me in the league because I’m a girl,” she remarked.
“The guys in the league are all concerned about my safety,” she added.
“The team even went to the trouble to buy me a mask I can wear when I’m pitching.”
Nosan’s father, Doug, used to play in the RRDFL with the now-defunct Baudette team and was coach of the Lake of the Woods high school girls’ softball team, where his daughter joining in willingly in Bears’ practices starting as early as Grade 4.
She exhibited a remarkable grasp of the game from the start. So much so, in fact, that she made the Bears’ varsity team of Grade 10-12 players in her first attempt—while she still was only in Grade 7.
Nosan progressed to the point where she just finished a terrific junior season with the Gustavus Adolphus College Gusties in Saint Peter, Mn.—the same school that defenceman Cam Jackson came from when he joined the Fort Frances Lakers midway through last season.
Nosan was named to the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference all-conference team for the first time after finishing second in the MIAC in batting with a .460 average, to go along with five homers and 27 RBIs.
Her 57 hits and 41 runs scored were both fourth-best in the MIAC for the Gusties, who finished second in the regular season with a 17-5 conference record and a mark of 24-15 overall.
Nosan then made the MIAC all-tournament team by hitting a stellar .545 in three games with a homer and four RBIs as the Gusties lost in the consolation final of the conference playoffs to the Bethel University Royals (St. Paul).
“We were ranked second in the conference going in but [tournament champion] St. Thomas always seem to win it,” said Nosan, who also was named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Midwest All-Region Third Team as an at-large selection at shortstop.
The diamond dynamo didn’t pause when asked what it is about softball that makes it such a passion for her.
“I love the whole team aspect of the game,” Nosan remarked.
“You have to be a team player,” she stressed. “There’s nine of you out there and you have to be able to rely on each other.
“But it’s not like track [and field],” Nosan added. “If you make an error there, you’re by yourself.
“If you make one in fastball if you’re the shortstop, you’ve got the left-fielder right there to pick you up.
“You travel together for two-and-a-half hours sometimes to get to games and you spend so much time together, you should be sick of each other,” she continued.
“But you never really are because of how fun it is.”
Nosan has followed in her dad’s footsteps and has become a role model for the next generation of Baudette girls’ softball players at the same time as the current coach of the Bears’ high school team, leading the squad as a player-coach to the Canada Day women’s fastball tournament title in Barwick.
“There’s a lot I want to give back to sports,” said Nosan.
“I want the girls to know they don’t have to feel limited to just playing slo-pitch softball or even just in a women’s league,” she stressed.
“I just want to stay in the game always,” she added.
“I don’t care if it’s fastball, slo-pitch, or whatever. I love all of it.”

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