By DANIEL KAUFFMAN
11:00 PM EST, November 29, 2012
The University of Maryland-Baltimore County made quite an impression on Kinsey Shifflett.
Smithsburg’s star softball catcher attended a camp at UMBC over the summer and liked it so much, she chose to make it her collegiate home. On Nov. 14, Shifflett signed a letter of intent to play for the Retrievers beginning in 2014.
“I just fell in love with the campus and the whole team and the coaches,” said Shifflett. “They were so nice and welcoming to me, so I knew it was the right place. ... I wanted to stay not too far from home, stay close to home where my parents could come and watch me play still. That was a big part of it.”
Shifflett can now focus on her final season in a Leopards uniform this spring.
“I was so stressed this summer, trying to get things working and call coaches and stuff,” Shifflett said. “Now that this decision has been made, I feel I can breathe again, go out there and do what I can do ... and have a good senior year.”
She’s been one of Smithsburg’s key hitters in a stacked lineup over the past two seasons, earning two Herald-Mail All-County First Team selections.
“She’s an excellent hitter. She has power and can go the other way with it,” Smithsburg coach Katy Barnhart said. “As far as hitting goes, especially in high school, going with the pitch is hard to do. She has power to all fields and she has no weak spots. She swings at good pitches only, so she walks a lot ... and when she does get a good pitch to hit, she makes solid contact.”
As a sophomore in 2011, Shifflett burst onto the scene with a .422 average, seven doubles, nine walks, 16 RBIs and 21 runs scored. She was even better as a junior, hitting .522 with eight doubles, two home runs, six walks, 29 RBIs and 22 runs scored.
“(UMBC) definitely sees potential in my hitting and how I can wait for a good pitch and work the count,” Shifflett said. “They want me to continue working on being more versatile. In travel ball (with the Heartbreakers club, based in Frederick) I also play outfield and in the infield a little bit, so they want me to have that versatility.”
Shifflett also has been key in the success of Leopards pitcher Cara Ferguson, who’s a three-time All-County First Team honoree herself.
“(Shifflett’s) very smart back there. She calls a great game,” Barnhart said. “Her and Cara have great chemistry and I’m very confident in her abilities to get the job done back there. She’s our rock back there.
“She’s such a hard worker and she has such a passion for the game, and it’s so obvious the way she plays it. She’s a fabulous kid in general.”
The Retrievers are coached by Joe French, who is 346-276 in 11 seasons at UMBC and 772-550-1 over his coaching career.
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