Camdenton senior Shelby Webster got her wish.
As someone who had her eyes set on Truman State as a freshman, Webster was granted with the opportunity to play softball for the Bulldogs and celebrated that opportunity on Friday afternoon at a ceremony amongst teammates, coaches family and friends at Camdenton High School.
“I went to three of their camps and automatically I knew I wanted to go there. That was my number one school,” said Webster who identified the school as her first and only choice and was not heavily recruited because she verbally committed to Truman State before her junior season. “It was a small school in a small town, which I loved and I did not want to go to a big city. I had my heart set on Truman so I just made sure I played in front of the coach a lot. Their health science program is also amazing so it was meant to be.”
And even though Webster knew this day was coming for the better half of her high school career, and had already officially signed with the Division II school in Kirksville, Mo., on November 14, it did not take away from the feeling of seeing her dreams and goals realized.
“Honestly, it is indescribable. Since I was 10 years-old I dreamed of playing college ball,” she stated.
“Truman was just a perfect option and I’ve worked really hard for this… I’m really happy the day is here.”
Webster’s journey started on the tee-ball field around the age of five and she eventually worked her way up to machine pitch and was soon playing travel ball with other girls in the Lake area by the age of seven. However, she just happened to be the youngest player on that travel team amongst a lineup of girls that were 10 and 11 years-old.
That kind of ambition only grew and it led to a decorated career in the high school ranks where she set some new school records, helped the team win a few conference and district championships and received plenty of accolades in the process.
As a three-year starter, Webster set a school record for most RBIs in a season (53), broke her own school record for single-season home runs (15), most home runs in a game (3) and most home runs in a career (30). With Webster in the lineup, the Lakers won two outright Ozark Conference titles and three straight district titles.
In just her senior year alone (23 games), she put up a .521 batting average that included a .571 on-base percentage, a 1.239 slugging percentage and 1.811 on-base slugging percentage. That translated to 37 hits, 15 home runs, 45 RBIs and a .593 average with runners in scoring position. To provide even more perspective, Webster only struck out six times the entire season this past fall and was never caught looking in any of those strikeouts.
“Honestly, the mental part of the game is not really a challenge for me. I always have a pretty good view of what I want to do at the plate whether it is getting a hit, getting a run or doing my part,” Webster said of her success at the plate. “That has never really been a challenge for me, but I made sure I got stronger over the winter.
“I also had glasses this year so that probably helped too,” the senior added with a smile. “It was just a whole bunch of key elements that came together.”
For her efforts, Webster was named First Team All-Conference three times, First Team All-District three times, First Team All-Region three times and became the first Laker ever to make First Team-All State and be named All-State twice in four years. She was also known for her efforts in the classroom after being named Academic All-Conference twice and individual Academic All-State twice while also being a member of the National Honor Society.
“For Shelby, this was something that was kind of a long time coming. We always knew she had the potential to go play college,” Camdenton coach Tyler Dinsdale noted.
“She is an outstanding player and Truman State is getting an outstanding athlete so this is fantastic. It is great for her and great for the program too.”
And although Webster always had the potential, it was not realized without some work ethic and the coach noted that Truman State should be very happy with its investment to get a player with the kind of work ethic and athleticism Webster has displayed.
“Shelby put in a lot of extra work,” Dinsdale remarked. “She always pushed herself to be the best player and this was not something that just came willy nilly. This was hard work she put in that got her to the level that she is at today.”
The coach went on to say Webster’s 30 home runs and a bat that ended up being in the top 10 for RBIs in the state of Missouri would not be easy to replace along with her leadership, but if returning and future players follow that work ethic, good things are bound to happen.
“She worked hard in practice all the time, she pushed others in practice and pushed others in the offseason,” Dinsdale said. “She was definitely not a slacker in that area so that would be something that would be the main thing to preach to future players.”
There is little doubt Webster will a similar kind of attitude and effort at her next stop and she is looking forward to joining her new crew. One of the senior’s favorite things about the game is the opportunity to meet new people and the friendships it creates in the process.
“I know a lot of my teammates and they are so awesome, really friendly and really talented,” Webster said of Truman State. “Next year there will be 15 underclassmen and only five upperclassmen so whenever we are upperclassmen we are going to be a really good team. It is going to be exciting.”
At the same time, she will not forget where she came from either. Whether it was teammates giving each other a hard time in practice for fun, winning conference and district titles or even the sendoff to this year’s sectional game at Ozark where students got out of class to wish the Lakers good luck before their playoff game, playing for Camdenton was something Webster did not take for granted.
“I am going to miss playing with my best friends who I have been playing with since I was seven so it is going to be really hard not being able to play with them again,” the senior said. “I am going to miss Coach Dinsdale and all the other coaches. They were a lot of fun and the atmosphere was really good.
“Honestly, I could not imagine going to a different school. Everyone here was really supportive.”
Webster also took some time to offer her support to the players who represent Camdenton in the years to come.
“Never doubt yourself,” she said. “Just because you need improvement does not mean it will not come. If you put in the work, time an effort, you will improve.”
Webster plans to major in health sciences at Truman State with an emphasis in pre-med.