By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
Shoemaker pitcher Sami Berg has thrown her last pitch to longtime catcher and friend, Ashley Shannon.
Everything, from Shoemaker's first trip to the softball playoffs in school history to the swine flu delay in April, prolonged that inevitability.
On Tuesday, there was no putting it off as Berg, with Shannon and junior teammate Morgan Estes sitting on either side of her, signed her commitment to play for the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
"It feels great," Berg said after the ceremony. "I get to do something that I've wanted to do since I was a little girl."
Berg had a 1.23 career ERA and struck out 801 batters in her time in a Shoemaker jersey while also batting .463 with 14 home runs and 118 RBIs.
"I think she's going to play an important role," said UMHB softball coach Kasey Blomquist via cell phone. "I don't know where she's going to fit in the puzzle, yet. She's an extraordinary pitcher and she can hit the ball well. We're very excited about getting her."
In her senior year, Berg went 18-11 with a school-record 290 strikeouts and hit .500 with six home runs and 40 RBIs as one of two seniors to lead the Lady Grey Wolves to their first win over district-rival Temple, including a playoff play-in for their first-ever trip to the playoffs.
"It was phenomenal," Berg said of her senior year. "It was a great way to go out. I was so proud of our team because we made it (to the playoffs).
It will be bittersweet for Berg and Shannon when next year rolls around. Neither will be teammates for the first time in a decade.
"Me and Ashley are like Batman and Robin," Berg said.
Added Shannon, "It's going to be real hard. I've been with Sami so long, there are things you do differently when you have that kind of relationship ? like our handshake that we've had for the last three years. It's hard to get that with anybody else."
Their relationship started with the little leagues and select teams when they were 10 years old and they've been friends ever since they were "fat, little kids," Berg said.
They understand life and softball did not stop Tuesday with Berg's commitment.
This was a goal she set for herself when as a child playing little league when parents demanded to see her birth certificate.
That's when she was nasty, she said.
And, ultimately, that's what she wants to get back to.
"I had the attitude for it. I was mean and I was nasty," Berg said. "I'm looking forward to getting back that competitiveness and my attitude that I had when I was a little girl.
"I'm not playing high school softball, anymore. I'm not playing with my friends. I'm playing competitive softball."
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7562.