Stanford Lands a Powerbroker : La Reina's Anderson Uses Big Bat to Land Scholarship She Wanted


At some point since Shane Anderson first put on a uniform for the La Reina High team as a freshman, Tri-Valley League softball coaches raised the white flag.

Faced with the fact that they couldn't stop Anderson--a four-year starter who carries a lifetime .403 batting average and 61 runs batted in over 2 1/2 varsity seasons--they have simply tried to hold her in check.

"We try not to give her anything good, out of respect," said Oak Park Coach Roger Newell of his pitching strategy against Anderson, a senior bound for Stanford.

"You're not going to fool her," Newell said. "You just want to get through her spot (in the batting order) with as little damage as possible."

But their worst fears were realized in 1994, when Anderson, a powerfully built 5-foot-9 shortstop, started hitting home runs.

She hit eight home runs, including four in the playoffs--two in one game--as the Regents advanced to the semifinals of the section playoffs and Anderson was chosen All-Ventura County by The Times.

A gifted athlete who didn't play softball seriously until she was 12, Anderson developed a home-run stroke just in time for Sandy Pearce, who coaches a Stanford team that is playing its first season in the Pacific 10 Conference.

Pearce, whose maiden name was Sandy Ortgis, played at Newbury Park High in the early 1980s. She knew about Anderson, who came through the same youth program. In town to visit her parents, Pearce decided to check out La Reina's second-round playoff game last spring against Alverno.

"We pulled up when she was batting," Pearce said. "We surveyed that the bases were loaded."

The result was predictable to anyone who had followed Anderson through a 1994 season in which she batted .384, drove in 31 runs while striking out only eight times in 73 at bats.

Anderson hit a grand slam, the first of two round trippers in a 14-0 victory.

"She's so powerful," Pearce said. "That is why we're bringing her in. She's going to do great things. We really feel she's going to be a tremendous power hitter in the Pac-10."

The scene is Monday's practice--only Anderson's third because she played on a Regent basketball team that advanced to the quarterfinals of the playoffs the previous week.

"I'm a little bit rusty--just getting back into it," she says.

Anderson and a teammate are on their knees in the outfield, working on one of five hitting drills that Coach Don Hyatt has set up to develop bat speed and hand-eye coordination.

Anderson holds what looks like a shortened broom stick in one hand and swats plastic balls that explode into the center field fence. She hits the plastic ball with the skinny stick with such force, the chain links of the fence can be heard rattling more than 100 yards away.

Anderson steps into the batter's box to hit off a pitching machine set at 57 miles per hour--which is very fast for high-school players. The right-handed hitting Anderson sends a high drive out of the park in left center on the third pitch.

Most of her hits kick up clouds of dirt as they sizzle through the gap between shortstop and third base and into left field. Anderson's line drives usually reach the fence on one bounce.

Said Newell of Oak Park, "She's hit against us, a couple times for power. We've got to make sure nobody's on base when she comes up, and try to keep it out of the air.

"I expect her to put up the same kind of numbers this year."

Anderson hit only one home run before the 1994 season, instead hitting for averages of .414 and .416. Opponents couldn't keep her off base her sophomore year, in which she had an on-base percentage of nearly .800. Last year her slugging percentage was .781.

She proved her late-season power surge in high school was no fluke last summer when she was picked up by a team called Stealth for the Amateur Softball Assn. national 18-and-under tournament.

Arriving late because of summer school, she had a pinch double in one game. Then, in the only game she played, start to finish, Anderson hit a home run and a triple.

"The thing to do with Shane Anderson is walk her," said Moorpark Coach Tom Humphreys.

Added Fillmore Coach Dave Wilde: "She's got a lot of strength and power. But she's also a good athlete with with a great arm and pretty good range as a shortstop. She's also very competitive."

Wilde realized that after Anderson broke a 1-1 tie with a solo shot to left field last year in a game at Fillmore. In an effort to neutralize Anderson, Wilde moved his outfielders back to the warning track.

On the home run, Fillmore outfielder Nicole Uribe crashed into the six-foot fence, which is 200 feet from home plate, and injured her leg.

"It was a perfect pitch, and it was the perfect hit," said Uribe, who was sidelined the rest of the week with a bruised knee. "Right before the play, the coaches moved me 10 feet back. And I was running full blast."

Uribe thought she could catch Anderson's line drive but forgot she was playing deeper than usual. The ball landed at least eight feet behind the fence.

"The coaches knew she's a good hitter--very powerful," Uribe said. "She either hits the ball to the fence or over the fence."

Anderson did not aspire to be a fence buster as a young girl. Though she competed in track and field and swimming, as well as softball, basketball and volleyball, Anderson said she wasn't much of a sports fan. She took a stronger liking to gymnastics and ballet.

"But I got big and I couldn't do anything else," Anderson said. "Of course, anything you do good, you want to do more of it. I got too big to dance. I wasn't very graceful."

To the best of her recollection, Anderson wanted to attend Stanford since age 8. Had she known Pearce was watching when she hit her grand slam against Alverno, Anderson said, "I probably would have choked."

If Pearce wasn't sold on Anderson before, she was now. Anderson, who has a 3.74 grade-point average at a strong academic school, signed a letter of intent with Stanford on Nov. 9.

"Even though I took a couple recruiting trips to other schools, as soon as I knew if I'd be accepted by Stanford, it was no decision," Anderson said. "And it was the best thing I could ever have dreamed of."

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